Washington, D.C.–The following is a statement from Iffath Abbasi Hoskins, MD, FACOG, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG):
“The latest data released by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) show significant increases in U.S. maternal mortality rates in 2021 and send a resounding message that maternal health and evidence-based efforts to eliminate racial health inequities need to be, and remain, a top public health priority.
“ACOG previously expressed great concern that the COVID-19 pandemic would worsen the U.S. maternal mortality crisis. Provisional data released in late 2022 in a U.S. Government Accountability Office report indicated that maternal death rates in 2021 had spiked—in large part due to COVID-19. Still, confirmation of a roughly 40% increase in preventable deaths compared to a year prior is stunning news.
“The new data from the NCHS also show a nearly 60% percent increase in maternal mortality rates in 2021 from 2019, just before the start of the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic had a dramatic and tragic effect on maternal death rates, but we cannot let that fact obscure that there was—and still is—already a maternal mortality crisis to compound.
“Just as concerning are worsening racial health inequities and the fact that pregnant and postpartum Black people continue to make up a disproportionate number of maternal deaths at growing and alarming rates. This trend must be stopped.
“ACOG continues to strongly advocate for policies focused on improving maternal health outcomes, including mandatory extension of postpartum Medicaid coverage from 60 days to 12 months. ACOG also supports several proposals in the president’s 2024 budget, including investments in HRSA’s maternal and child health programs, such as the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health; CDC programs aimed at reducing maternal mortality, such as maternal mortality review committees and perinatal quality collaboratives; and funding for the Implementing a Maternal health and PRegnancy Outcomes Vision for Everyone Initiative at the NIH.
“In the last several months, maternal mortality data have been released from a variety of sources using different methodologies. While this latest information from the NCHS does help inform ACOG’s work in eliminating preventable maternal deaths, it is important that we continue to move closer to the standardization of maternal mortality data in order to develop more effective interventions and strategies to save lives.”