Maternal Mortality in US Continues to Rise

The United States' persistently high maternity rate has drawn increasing attention, especially in comparison to other developed countries.

While data from 2020 already painted a concerning picture with the US maternity rate standing at three to four times higher than that of other industrialized nations, recent revelations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have intensified the alarm.

The latest CDC release indicates a startling 40% surge in the maternity rate from 32.9 to 23.8 in 2020 alone, pointing to a deepening crisis in maternal health.

US maternal mortality rate is significantly higher than other industrialized countries

Comparing US maternal mortality to other industrialized countries as defined by the International Monetary Fund*, a significant gap appears. As of 2020, the maternal mortality rate in the US is 3.5 times higher than the average rate in industrialized countries. CDC has released the 2021 rate for US, however other countries are not yet available for comparison purposes. The expectation is for all nations to have seen somewhat of an increase due to COVID-19, yet US's 40% increase seems to be larger than a COVID-19 attributable impact.

Non-hispanic black communities' maternal mortality rates are strikingly high

This escalation is particularly distressing within Non-Hispanic Black communities, where the maternity rate skyrockets to an alarming 70, revealing stark disparities in healthcare access and outcomes.

White backgrounds: Primary contributors to maternal ratio

Despite Non-Hispanic white communities constituting a larger portion of the population, their impact on the overall Maternal Mortality Ratio (MRR) remains substantial, emphasizing the systemic nature of this issue. Out of the 1205 deaths reported in 2021, almost half came from non-hispanic white communities.


The rise is more significant within the demographic of women aged under 25

Further analysis reveals that the surge in maternity rates cuts across all demographic categories, with the under 25 age group experiencing the most pronounced increase, especially among individuals of Hispanic descent. 

This multifaceted scenario underscores the urgent need for a holistic approach to address the myriad factors contributing to maternal mortality in the United States, including disparities in healthcare access, social determinants of health, and systemic biases within the healthcare system. Effective interventions must prioritize equitable access to quality prenatal care, culturally competent support services, and comprehensive reproductive health education to mitigate the escalating crisis and ensure the well-being of mothers and infants nationwide.

Maternal death is defined by the World Health Organization as “the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and the site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management, but not from accidental or incidental causes”  


Analysis by Selin Tamer, Co-Founder & CEO Cubtale

April, 2024





*The International Monetary Fund uses the name for the group of mainly advanced economies included in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. This group includes Canada, Japan, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and eighteen European countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. This definition omits the newly industrialized countries, including Brazil, Korea, and Singapore, and the countries of the former Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe, of which several, including Russia and the Czech Republic, are heavily industrialized.