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The pandemic is making America’s dismal pregnancy-related death rate even worse

Matthew Carnes prepares to change diapers for his newborn daughter Evelina Carnes as his wife Breanna Llamas keeps watch in the postpartum unit at Providence St. Mary Medical Center.
Matthew Carnes prepares to change diapers for his newborn daughter Evelina Carnes as his wife Breanna Llamas keeps watch in the postpartum unit at Providence St. Mary Medical Center.

A new report from the CDC reveals that pregnancy-related death rates are going up. In 2020, pregnancy-related mortality rose by nearly 20 percent compared to the previous year. The report also found a growing disparity in mortality along racial lines. Black people are dying at three times the rate of white people.

 In addition, a new report from Vox out this week found that maternity wards are shuttering around the country, especially in rural areas and communities consisting primarily of people of color.

This is all taking place during a global pandemic that has strained hospital systems and made even routine procedures a difficult and sometimes dangerous task. But pregnancy-related deaths have been going up long before COVID-19, having almost doubled in the past 30 years.

How has the pandemic impacted maternal mortality and what is being done to reverse this long-standing trend?

Copyright 2022 WAMU 88.5

Michelle Harven