Blacks, Immigrants Have High Rates of Maternal Mortality
African-American women and Asian and Hispanic immigrants are at greater risk for pregnancy-related deaths than white women, according to a CDC report published yesterday in the Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report. The San Jose Mercury News reports that the study provides the first analysis of how pregnancy-related deaths vary by ethnicity. The CDC reviewed data on 3,193 pregnancy-related deaths in the United States between 1991 and 1997, the latest year for which such statistics are available. The study found that overall, about 12 women died for every 100,000 who were pregnant, higher than the 8 deaths per 100,000 rate found by a previous CDC study of data from 1987 to 1996 found. Younger women were least likely to die from pregnancy-related complications, and the maternal death rate increased for women over age 35. White women under age 30 had the lowest risk of dying during childbirth, with about six deaths per 100,000 pregnancies. Black women of all ages had the highest maternal mortality risk -- 29.6 per 100,000 births -- about four times the death rate of white women. This figure is "substantially higher than previously thought," as the earlier CDC study found 19.6 maternal deaths per 100,000 black women. Women of all minority groups studied had higher pregnancy-related death rates than white women, with Hispanics, Asians/Pacific Islanders and American Indians/Alaska Natives 1.5 times more likely to die than whites. But these relatively high death rates were found to "disappear" in later generation Americans: Hispanic and Asian immigrants had "much higher" death rates than women of the same ethnic background who were born in the United States (Lyons/Krieger, San Jose Mercury News, 5/10). To read the full report, go to http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5018a3.htm.