NEW YORK (NEWSnet/AP) — Pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. have fallen back to pre-pandemic levels, new government data suggests.

About 680 women died last year during pregnancy or shortly after childbirth, according to provisional CDC data. That’s down from 817 such deaths recorded in 2022 and 1,205 recorded during in 2021, which was the highest level in more than 50 years.


The pandemic of COVID-19, and its waning, seems to be the main explanation for the swing in numbers, said Donna Hoyert, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maternal mortality researcher. The coronavirus is considered particularly dangerous to pregnant women.

The data comes from contributing factors listed on death certificates. There were over 400 such cases involving pregnant women or new mothers during 2021; but fewer than 10 such cases in 2023.

Those numbers are expected to change after further analysis. Still, 2023 is expected to end up down from 2022, Hoyert said.

The CDC tracks the number of women who die while pregnant, during childbirth and up to 42 days after birth from conditions considered related to pregnancy. Excessive bleeding, blood vessel blockages and infections are leading causes.

There were about 19 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births in 2023, according to the provisional data. That's in line with rates seen in 2018 and 2019.

There are other efforts that may be helping to lower deaths and lingering health problems related to pregnancy, including stepped-up efforts to fight infections and address blood loss, said Dr. Laura Riley, a New York City-based obstetrician who handles high-risk pregnancies.

“I think there’s good news. We’re making strides in certain areas,” said Riley, head OB-GYN at Weill Cornell Medicine. “But the bad news and scary news is ... there are these other political and social forces that make this (reducing maternal deaths) difficult.”

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