NEW YORK – Pregnant women’s deaths in the United States declined dramatically in 2022, down from a six-decade peak during the outbreak, according to new data. Amid COVID increase in 2022, pregnancy deaths in the United States fell
According to a final tally provided Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, upwards of 1,200 women in the United States died during pregnancy or soon after delivery in 2021. As per initial agency estimates, 733 maternal deaths occurred in 2022, however, the ultimate figure is most probably higher.
According to officials, the maternal mortality rate in 2022 will be close to pre-pandemic proportions. However, it’s not great: the rate prior to COVID-19 was the worst in decades.
“From the very worst to the almost worst?”I would not really call that an achievement,” remarked Omari Maynard, a New York native whose partner met her demise with child delivery in 2019.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks women who die during pregnancy, during childbirth, as well as up to 42 days following birth. The most common causes are blood vessel blocks, excessive bleeding, and infections.
COVID-19 is especially harmful to pregnant women, and doctors believe it is the primary cause of the 2021 surge. Some activists believe that burnt-out doctors may have increased the risk by neglecting pregnant women’s concerns.
There were approximately 33 maternal fatalities with every 100,000 live births in 2021. The previous time the government documented such a high rate was in 1964.
Whatever transpired “isn’t really that difficult to explain,” according to Eugene Declercq, a maternal and child mortality expert at Boston University. “The increase was caused by COVID.”
Earlier government estimates concluded that COVID was responsible for one-quarter of pregnancy-related deaths in 2020 and 2021, implying that the entire rise in pregnancy-related deaths was caused by coronavirus illnesses or the pandemic’s broader effect on medical care. According to a recent study published in BMJ Global Health, pregnant women affected with the coronavirus were roughly 8 times more likely to die than their uninfected colleagues.
Pregnant women’s bodies are already under stress, with their hearts having to work harder. Various health issues may exacerbate their situation. On top of that, “COVID is going to make everything that much worse,” said Dr. Elizabeth Cherot, the March of Dimes’ chief health and medical officer.
It didn’t really help that, in 2021, immunization rates amongst pregnant women were painfully low, especially among Black women. Some of this was due to low vaccination availability, as well as the fact that the CDC did not entirely recommend injections for pregnant women till August 2021.
“At first, there was a lot of suspicion of the vaccine in Black communities,” stated Samantha Griffin, owner of a doula business in the Washington, D.C., area that mostly serves families of color.
But, as she and others pointed out, there’s a lot more to it. The rate of maternal mortality for Black women in 2021 was approximately three times that of white women. In addition, the maternal mortality rate for Hispanic American women that same year increased 54% compared to 2020, exceeding the death rate for white women.
At over a year after the outbreak, many nurses and physicians were exhausted and received less in-person interaction with patients.
Physicians at the time “were having to make hasty choices and might not have been attentive to their patients as much,” Griffin added. “Women started complaining about something being wrong and also that they were not really listened to.”
Maynard, 41, of Brooklyn, stated that he and his girlfriend encountered this in 2019.
Shamony Gibson, a 30-year-old woman in good health, was due to give birth to their second child. The pregnancy was uneventful til her contractions stalled and she had to have a c-section.
The procedure took longer than expected, however, their son Khari got delivered in September. Shamony complained bitterly of chest aches and difficulty breathing a few days later, according to Maynard. He claimed that doctors advised her to simply relax and allow her body to recover after the pregnancy.
Her condition deteriorated upwards of a week after having given birth, and she pleaded to be admitted to the hospital. Her heart then stalled, and her family members called for rescue. The first question paramedics and firefighters asked was whether Gibson was using illegal substances, which she denied.
She was admitted to the hospital and passed the next day as a result of a blood clot in her lungs with her son being only 13 days old.
“She was not really heard,” remarked Maynard an artist who became a maternal health advocate.