The U.S. Maternal Health Crisis: 14 Numbers You Need To Know

May 3, 2011

Every 90 seconds a woman dies giving birth.

Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 8. Here at Amnesty, we’re honoring mothers by fighting for maternal health — sending Mother’s Day action cards to U.S. and international decision-makers, hosting events and more (sign up here).

We’re also launching a one-year update to our groundbreaking report, Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA. From that update, here are 14 numbers you need to know:

49: The number of countries that have lower maternal mortality ratios than the US.  Women in the US are more likely to die of pregnancy related complications than in 49 other countries, including nearly all European countries, Canada and several countries in Asia and the Middle East.

4 million: The number of women who give birth each year in the US.  Childbirth related care is the most common reason for hospitalization in the US.

$98 billion: The total amount spent in the US each year on hospital bills related to childbirth.  The average health care provider fees for maternal care are twice as high as any other country.

3 to 4x: African-American women are 3 to 4 times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as white women.

60: The number of years that the disparity between African-American women and white women has not improved.

4x: The maternal mortality ratio for American Indian/Alaska Native women was 4 times higher than the Healthy People 2010 goal (the national target set by the government).

8x: For African American women, the maternal mortality ratio was 8 times higher than the Healthy People 2010 goal.

2x: Women living in low-income areas across the US were 2 times as likely to suffer a maternal death as women in high income areas.

50: The number of women in the US suffering a “near miss” (a pregnancy complication so severe the woman nearly dies) for each woman who dies.

34,000: The total number of women each year who suffer a “near miss” – one every 15 minutes.

33%: The percentage of US births that are by cesarean section.  The cesarean rate has risen for 13 consecutive years to reach this all-time high in 2009. The cesarean rate is now more than double the WHO recommended range of 5-15%.

21%: In states with cesarean rates higher than 33%, the risk of maternal death is 21% higher than in states with cesarean rates lower than 33%.

29+1: The number of states – plus the District of Columbia – that have no maternal mortality review system in place to ensure that all deaths are analyzed to prevent the same problems from occurring in the future.

1,000: The number of women around the world who die every day from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. That’s over 350,000 women every year – one woman every 90 seconds.  The vast majority of these deaths are preventable.

This Mother’s Day, let’s change these numbers for the better. Register to write cards and take action to improve access to good quality care for all women.