Pregnancy-related deaths happen before, during, and up to a year after delivery

Nearly 31% of the 700 pregnancy-related deaths in the United States each year occur during pregnancy, according to a new report, while 36% happen during delivery or the week after and 33% occur 1 week to 1 year later.

Nearly 31% of the 700 pregnancy-related deaths in the United States each year occur during pregnancy, according to a new report, while 36% happen during delivery or the week after and 33% occur 1 week to 1 year later. The new CDC Vital Signs report notes that heart disease and stroke caused 34% of pregnancy-related deaths, with infections and severe bleeding among the other leading causes. CDC conducted an analysis of 2011–15 national data on pregnancy mortality and of 2013–17 detailed data from 13 state maternal mortality review committees. The report confirmed persistent racial disparities, but it also found that most deaths were preventable, regardless of race or ethnicity. "Our new analysis underscores the need for access to quality services, risk awareness, and early diagnosis, but it also highlights opportunities for preventing future pregnancy-related deaths," said Wanda Barfield, MD, MPH, FAAP, director of the Division of Reproductive Health in CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. "By identifying and promptly responding to warning signs not just during pregnancy, but even up to a year after delivery, we can save lives."