Pregnancy is one of the most important and special times in a person’s life—but sadly, it can sometimes end tragically. Unfortunate events such as death or injury to the mother or child during pregnancy, childbirth, or postpartum are far more common than most may realize. Let’s explore common causes of pregnancy-related deaths so you can be aware of common dangers and risks.
Utilizing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we have compiled the following findings:
Pregnancy-Related Deaths: Statistics
- The leading cause of pregnancy-related death varied by race and ethnicity.
- 84.2% of pregnancy-related deaths were determined to be preventable.
- 82% of decedents lived in urban counties.
- 53% of pregnancy-related deaths occurred 7-365 days postpartum.
Underlying Causes of Pregnancy-Related Deaths
According to the (CDC), amongst 1,018 pregnancy-related deaths analyzed, an underlying cause of death was identified for 987 deaths. This tragedy should not be taken lightly, as these deaths are largely preventable with proper medical care. To understand the causes of these deaths and how to avoid them, let's take a closer look at the leading causes of pregnancy-related death.
Infections that occur during pregnancy can be life-threatening if left untreated. The most common infections include:
- Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
- Group B Strep (GBS)
Women with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or HIV/AIDS are especially vulnerable to infection-related complications. To reduce the chances of infection, pregnant women should make sure they practice good hygiene, get regular checkups from their healthcare provider, and get tested for STDs early in their pregnancies.
If left untreated, individuals with infections can become septic. According to Sepsis Alliance, sepsis is the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection that can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death. In addition to being fatal, sepsis during pregnancy can increase the risk of premature delivery and prolonged recovery postpartum.
Hemorrhaging and Blood Clots
Hemorrhaging and blood clots are two of the most common causes of death for pregnant women in the United States. Hemorrhaging can occur during labor due to extreme blood loss or after delivery due to tears in the uterus or cervix. Blood clots can form in veins near the placenta, blocking blood flow and leading to severe complications. According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), approximately 1-5% of women have a postpartum hemorrhage, and it is more likely to occur with a cesarean birth.
Healthcare providers should closely monitor pregnant women throughout their pregnancies and postpartum periods to reduce the risk of hemorrhage or clotting.
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death among pregnant women in developed countries like the United States. Women with pre-existing heart conditions or high blood pressure are particularly vulnerable to heart problems during pregnancy.
To reduce your risk, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle before and during pregnancy by eating well, exercising regularly, getting plenty of rest, and managing stress levels effectively. Additionally, discuss any concerns about cardiovascular health with your healthcare provider before becoming pregnant so that any potential risks can be monitored closely throughout your pregnancy.
Mental Health Conditions
Mental health is an often overlooked factor in pregnancy-related deaths. Recent data suggests that depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder are all contributing factors for causes of death or life-threatening complications during pregnancy and postpartum, resulting in deaths of:
- Substance Use Disorder
Many healthcare providers do not actively screen for mental health issues during prenatal visits and postpartum care, leaving women feeling unheard and unsupported. Women must be provided adequate mental health services to have healthier pregnancies and better outcomes for their babies.
Atlanta Medical Malpractice
Pregnancy and childbirth are amazing processes that should be a time for celebration. However, as with any medical procedure, things can sometimes go wrong. If you or a loved one have experienced complications during pregnancy, childbirth, or postpartum that led to injury or death, please contact us for a free consultation with a medical malpractice attorney. You may be entitled to compensation for your losses.
If you or someone you love has been injured or died due to medical negligence, let us fight for you. To schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Atlanta medical malpractice attorney from The Mabrey Firm, give us a call at (404) 814-5098 or contact us online.