An increase in the number of women dying during pregnancy or soon after giving birth in the United States was seen during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new research. Health experts blame this rise in part to Covid and other pandemic-related disturbances.
According to a recent study from the National Center for Health Statistics, the number of maternal fatalities increased by 14 percent between 2019 and 2020, reaching 861 from 754 in 2019.
Maternal mortality rates in the United States are already much higher than those in other industrialised nations, and the rise in fatalities will raise the country’s maternal mortality rate to 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2020, up from 20.1 deaths in 2019. MMRs in affluent nations have recently fluctuated from less than two fatalities per 100,000 live births in Norway and New Zealand to slightly less than nine deaths per 100,000 live births in France and Canada, according to the World Health Organization.
Black women in the United States died in greater numbers than any other group: Black women accounted for one-third of all pregnant women and new moms who died in 2020, despite the fact that Black Americans constitute little more than 13 percent of the population. The death rate of black women was approximately three times higher than that of white women.
While the mortality rate for Hispanic women has traditionally been lower than that of white women, the rate for Hispanic women jumped considerably in 2020 and is now virtually on level with that of white women. Death rates climbed among all pregnant women over the age of 24, but they grew much more among those over the age of 40, whose death rate was about eight times higher than that of women under the age of 25.
In spite of the fact that this new report is lacking in specifics — no maternal mortality figures for American Indian/Alaska Native women were provided, despite the fact that they have a higher rate of pregnancy-related deaths than white, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander women — experts believe that some of the deaths were most likely caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Women who are pregnant are at greater risk of developing a more severe condition if they are infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid, and vaccinations for this virus were not available in 2020.
Additionally, she said that “we hadn’t worked out how to administer obstetric care safely in 2020,” which is a reference to the increased risks encountered by pregnant women who receive Covid.
There were fewer physicians who were still visiting patients in person, hospitals were often overcrowded, and people avoided emergency departments that were overrun by Covid patients.
The probability of needing intensive care or mechanical ventilation is greater in pregnant women who have Covid than in the general population. Furthermore, research have shown that pregnant women have a greater chance of dying despite their relative young. In spite of repeated calls from health officials, their immunisation rates have continued to lag behind the rest of the world.
Despite the fact that black Americans suffered disproportionately from the pandemic, with higher hospitalisation and death rates than their white counterparts, racial disparities in maternal mortality predate and extend beyond Covid, and are a result of structural health inequities with complex underlying causes.
Dr. Mary D’Alton, chief of the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, believes that stress, mental health issues, and drug misuse increased during the epidemic and may have led to worse results.
In her opinion, new programmes that provide increased services to patients, such as doulas, who may give support and advocacy for patients, represent significant advancements.
Cardiovascular disease, other medical disorders, and infections are the most common causes of pregnancy-related mortality, according to most studies. According to research, cardiomyopathy, a condition of the heart muscle, blood clots in the lungs, and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy all lead to a greater percentage of pregnancy-related mortality among Black women than among white women, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Another new mother who passed away in 2020, whose storey received widespread attention, was Dr. Chaniece Wallace, a Black physician who worked as chief paediatric resident at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis at the time of her death.
Dr. Wallace suffered from a pregnancy problem known as pre-eclampsia, and her baby daughter was born prematurely by caesarean section in October 2020, according to the hospital. Dr. Wallace, on the other hand, went on to have severe difficulties, and she died only a few short days after giving birth.