Maternal Mortality in the United States: A Review of Contemporary Data and Their Limitations

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Abstract

This article provides a review of maternal mortality data and their limitations in the United States. National maternal mortality data, which rely heavily on vital statistics, document that the risk of death from pregnancy-related causes has not declined for >25 years and that striking racial disparities persist. State-based maternal mortality reviews, functional in many states, obtain detailed information on medical and nonmedical factors contributing to maternal deaths. Without this detailed knowledge from state-level data and without addressing recognized quality problems with vital statistics data at the national-level, we will have difficulty understanding maternal death trends and preventing future such deaths.

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