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Important Facts for Maternal Mortality


'''Maternal mortality''' is a general term referring to the death of a woman during pregnancy or within a year of the end of pregnancy. A '''pregnancy-related death''' is defined as the death of a woman during pregnancy or within one year of the end of pregnancy from a pregnancy complication, a chain of events initiated by pregnancy, or the aggravation of an unrelated condition by the physiologic effects of pregnancy. A '''pregnancy-associated, but not related death''' is the death of a woman during pregnancy or within one year of the end of pregnancy from a cause that is not related to pregnancy. The '''pregnancy-related mortality ratio''' is the number of pregnancy-related deaths per 100,000 live births. ([])


Number of women who died during pregnancy or within one year of pregnancy


Total number of live births per year

Data Interpretation Issues

The World Health Organization defines maternal death as the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, from a pregnancy-related cause. The CDC Perinatal Mortality Surveillance System and the state of Utah include pregnancy-related deaths during pregnancy and up to 365 days after the end of a pregnancy. Care should be taken to clarify whether data are based on a 42 day or 365 day time period, and whether data refer to pregnancy-related deaths or pregnancy-associated deaths.

Why Is This Important?

Approximately 700 women die each year in the United States as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications (CDC). The death of a woman during pregnancy, during or after delivery is a tragedy for her family and for society as a whole. Surveillance of maternal mortality identifies ways to improve the health, health behaviors, and health care of women before, during, and after pregnancy. Surveillance also identifies gaps in the health care system, social services, health care access, and the quality of prenatal and postnatal care.

Healthy People Objective MICH-5:

Reduce the rate of maternal mortality
U.S. Target: 11.4 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births
State Target: 11.4 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births

Other Objectives

Healthy People 2030 Objective MICH-04 aims to reduce the maternal mortality rate to 15.7 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

How Are We Doing?

The Utah pregnancy-related mortality ratio in 2016 was 25.7 (per 100,000 live births), 16.5 in 2017, and 23.3 in 2018. The leading causes of pregnancy-related deaths in Utah in 2015-2016 were drug-related deaths and suicides. The leading causes of death for 2017-2018 have not yet been finalized.

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

The Utah maternal mortality rate, although it has larger fluctuations, is trending along with the U.S. rate (see graph). The U.S. maternal mortality rate has doubled in the past thirty years. Some of the increase is related to improved data collection, and some of the increase is believed to be associated with the increasing number of cesarean deliveries, now one-third of all births in the United States. Also, there is now greater maternal mortality associated with heart disease and heart conditions than in previous years. Other chronic conditions such as hypertension and diabetes put a pregnant woman at higher risk of poor outcomes, and an increasing number of women in the U.S. have these conditions. Mental health conditions and substance use disorders are a growing contributor to maternal death.

What Is Being Done?

The Utah Department of Health conducts ongoing maternal and infant mortality surveillance through the Perinatal Mortality Review program. Public education is provided on the importance of planning for pregnancy, preconception and interconception health, and recognition and treatment of maternal depression. The Utah Women and Newborns Quality Collaborative (UWNQC) addresses issues of quality improvement in maternal and infant health care.

Evidence-based Practices

Utah collaborates with The Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM) to promote consistent and safe maternity care. The AIM has developed patient safety bundles, a package of evidence-based best practices for implementation by hospital obstetric units. Safety bundles address the leading causes of maternal mortality and are designed to reduce maternal deaths related to obstetrical complications. In 2020, Utah began implementing the AIM safety bundle designed to improve the care of women affected by Opioid Use Disorders (OUD). In 2018, the Utah Department of Health hired a maternal mental health specialist and established a Maternal Mental Health committee to promote evidence-based screening, referral, and treatment practices for maternal mental health disorders. In 2020, the UDOH launched a new website to make it easier to find a mental health care provider with expertise in perinatal mood disorders.
The information provided above is from the Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Thu, 21 October 2021 2:55:59 from Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Mon, 4 Jan 2021 15:06:35 MST