Pregnancy-Related Deaths in the United States

Most pregnancy-related deaths are preventable.

Although deaths related to pregnancy are rare, too many people still die each year in the United States from complications due to pregnancy. In addition, there are considerable racial disparities. American Indian, Alaska Native, and Black women are two to three times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes than White women. This is unacceptable.

Most of these pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. Recognizing the urgent maternal warning signs, getting an accurate and timely diagnosis, and quality care can save lives.

How is CDC Working to Reduce Pregnancy-Related Deaths?

In addition to the Hear Her campaign, one strategy CDC is focused on to prevent pregnancy-related death is to support the work of maternal mortality review committees (MMRCs). MMRCs are multidisciplinary committees that perform comprehensive reviews of deaths among individuals during and up to a year after the end of pregnancy. Their work provides a deeper understanding of the circumstances of a person’s life and the events leading to their tragic death and help inform MMRC-developed recommendations for preventing future deaths. Learn more about CDC’s support of MMRCs through the Enhancing Reviews and Surveillance to Eliminate Maternal Mortality (ERASE MM) Program.

child with hand on pregnant mother's belly
doctor talking to woman
mother holding and smiling at infant

CDC also supports several perinatal quality collaboratives (PQCs), which are state or multistate networks of teams working to improve the quality of care for mothers and babies, as well as the National Network of Perinatal Quality Collaboratives. PCQs can implement processes that address the leading causes of maternal deaths and translate recommendations from MMRCs into action.

In addition, the CDC Levels of Care Assessment Tool (CDC LOCATe) helps states and other jurisdictions create standardized assessments of levels of maternal and neonatal care to identify gaps and strengthen their systems of risk appropriate care.