Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest the U.S. maternal mortality rate has increased over the past two decades. However, it cautions that a change in how data was collected inflated the numbers.
On paper, the maternal mortality rate has at least doubled in the past two decades — a statistic often repeated in the media, including by Wisconsin state Rep. Robyn Vining, a proponent of maternity health care. Between 2000 and 2020, the recorded rate went from 9.8 per 100,000 births to 23.8 per 100,000.
But the CDC says these “observed increases” are “largely due to the staggered implementation” of a checkbox marking pregnancy status at the time of death, which “increased identification of maternal deaths.” Accounting for it, predicted rates “did not change significantly from 1999 through 2017.”
The maternal mortality rate did jump to 32.9 per 100,000 in 2021, the latest data year available.
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Centers for Disease Control Table III. Observed and predicted maternal mortality rates: United States, 1999–2017 (Page 30)
Centers for Disease Control Maternal Mortality Rates in the United States, 2021