The number of women who died during pregnancy or shortly after giving birth jumped in the first year of the pandemic, a study in JAMA Network Open shows.
Why it matters:While pregnancy-associated causes were still the leading cause of death, the jump in mortality between 2019 and 2020 was largely not related to the pregnancies themselves.
By the numbers: The study, led by the University of Texas at San Antonio, found mortality rates increased by 22%, from 27.5 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2019 to 33.6 deaths per 100,000 live births for pregnancy-associated causes in 2020.
- They jumped 36%, from 26.4 to 36 per 100,000 live births for nonpregnancy causes over that time.
- Mortality rates increased “significantly” for drug poisoning, motor vehicle collisions and homicide, but did not increase due to suicide.
What they’re saying: “One of the main messages, I think, from this is really that there’s a much bigger societal problem facing pregnant women and new mothers who are in that postpartum period where, you know, that’s a very stressful time of life,” Jeffrey Howard, an author of the study and associate professor of public health at the University of Texas at San Antonio told CNN.