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MacDorman research reveals strong racial disparities in maternal mortality

Detailed examination of death certificates reframes maternal death data

Faculty Associate Marion MacDorman and colleagues examined death certificates from 2016 and 2017 to get a more detailed view of causes of death around childbirth. In most cases, they were able to determine the primary cause of death, reducing the percentage of deaths attributed to poorly defined causes from 43% in standard datasets to 2.5% among their set of confirmed maternal deaths.

The refined dataset revealed a larger than previously known disparity of 3.5 per cent for non-Hispanic Black women, instead of the 2.5 per cent disparity indicated in the originial data.

The research is reported today in the American Journal of Public Health:

MacDorman MF, Thoma M, Declerq E, and Howell EA. Racial and ethnic disparities in maternal mortality in the United States using enhanced vital records, 2016-2017. (2021) American Journal of Public Health. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2021.306375.

See the complete news release

See the article at AJPH