New data: Pregnancy-related deaths have fallen to pre-pandemic levels

FILE - A single room, fully dedicated maternity room in a hospital maternity ward in Mississippi is seen on Oct. 11, 2012. In 2023, U.S. pregnancy-related deaths fell back to pre-pandemic levels, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday, May 2, 2024.
FILE - A single room, fully dedicated maternity room in a hospital maternity ward in Mississippi is seen on Oct. 11, 2012. In 2023, U.S. pregnancy-related deaths fell back to pre-pandemic levels, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday, May 2, 2024. AP

PREGNANCY-RELATED deaths in the U.S. have fallen back to pre-pandemic levels, new government data suggests. About 680 women died last year during pregnancy or shortly after childbirth, according to provisional Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. That’s down from 817 deaths in 2022 and 1,205 in 2021, when it was the highest level in more than 50 years.

Covid-19 seems to be the main explanation for the improvement, said Donna Hoyert, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maternal mortality researcher. The coronavirus can be particularly dangerous to pregnant women. And, in the worst days of the pandemic, burned out physicians may have added to the risk by ignoring pregnant women’s worries, experts say.

Fewer death certificates are mentioning Covid-19 as a contributor to pregnancy-related deaths. The count was over 400 in 2021 but fewer than 10 last year, Hoyert said.

The agency on Thursday released a report detailing the final maternal mortality data for 2022. It also recently released provisional data for 2023. Those numbers are expected to change after further analysis — the final 2022 number was 11 percent higher than the provisional one. Still, 2023 is expected to end up down from 2022, Hoyert said. / AP

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