The Rising Maternal Mortality Rate in the U.S.

Paula recommended I read an article on maternal mortality rate (MMR). I had heard of the infant mortality rate but the MMR was new to me, so I dug into the details. This week, we’re going to take a look at the MMR, why it’s a cause for concern in the U.S., and what can be done about it.

The MMR is the number of women who die in the first year after childbirth. The problem is that there has been a rise in the U.S. MMR over the past 30 years from 7.2 women per 100,000 births to just over 26 per 100,000 births in 2015 (1). The MMR in the U.S. is moving in the wrong direction; other modern societies, such as Japan, the U.K., Finland, and Italy, have lowered their rates to fewer than five per 100,000 women. In Canada, deaths rose from six per 100,000 births in 1990 to 11 in 2013.

To use one of my favorite Vince Lombardi quotes, “What the hell is going on around here?” Why is this happening in the U.S.? The reasons are complicated, and that’s what I’ll talk about on Thursday. If you’d like to read the article that began this search for answers, check out the second reference.

What are you prepared to do today?

Dr. Chet


1. Lancet 2016; 388: 1775–812.


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