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Increase in US-pregnancy-related deaths linked to COVID-19

COVID-19 led to an increase in deaths from complications of childbirth or pregnancy in the United States last year. This crisis has disproportionately affected Black and Hispanic women, according to Wednesday’s government report.

The report shows the dire situation of expectant mothers and newborn babies across the country.

The study shows that the number of preterm and low birthweight deaths has increased by nearly 80% over the past year, with COVID-19 accounting for almost 25% of the 1,178 reported deaths last year. After years of steady growth, the percentage of low-birthweight and preterm babies increased last year. More pregnant and postpartum women are displaying symptoms of depression.

Karen Tabb Dina, a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign maternal health researcher, said that “we were already in crisis with maternal mortality.” This shows that COVID-19 has increased the crisis to levels that we as a nation are not capable of handling.

After Congress directed it to review maternal health outcomes in 2020’s coronavirus relief legislation, the nonpartisan U.S. Government Accountability Office analyzed the causes of pregnancy-related deaths.

The U.S. has a higher maternal death rate than other developed countries. It had been rising for years before the pandemic. However, COVID-19 has only made things worse for pregnant women.

A high-risk pregnancy can lead to the transmission of the virus to women who are pregnant. Expecting mothers face increased health risks due to staff shortages and COVID-19 limitations. Pandemic stress has also made it difficult for them to access in-person healthcare.

Tabb Dina stated that the rise in deaths from pregnancy-related causes could have been due to mental health issues. Many women who suffer from depression or anxiety during and after pregnancy have difficulty getting the treatment they require.

She said that mental health was the most complicated complication of pregnancy that she didn’t understand.

According to Carolyn Yocom, a Director at the Government Accountability Office, the largest spike in deaths occurred between July and December last year. The COVID-19 Delta variant infected millions.

Yocom stated that it was clear from data that the spread of the delta variant seemed to correlate with a significant increase in deaths.

Black mothers are particularly at risk of maternal death, as they have had worse outcomes than their peers.

Black women had a rise in the number of pregnancies-related deaths per 100,000 births, from 44 in 2019 up to 68.9 last year. Last year, white women experienced 26.1 deaths, an increase of 17.9 from 2019.

Although death rates among Hispanics were declining, they rose again after the pandemic. They increased from 12.6 per 100,000 in 2019 up to 27.5 last Year.

Black and Hispanic individuals have also been affected by COVID-19 at higher rates than other races, partly because they are less likely to have access to medical care or work in essential positions that expose them to the virus.

COVID-19 was not widely known until long before it became widespread. The stage was set for Black, low-income, and rural women to receive substandard pregnancy care, putting them at greater risk of having their pregnancies go wrong, according to a separate GAO report.

According to the report, hospitals have been cutting obstetrical services in rural areas and low-income communities.

The review revealed that more than half of rural counties did not have a hospital providing pregnancy care in 2018.

The report concluded that the loss of hospital-based obstetrics services in rural areas was associated with an increase in preterm and out-of-hospital births. This could contribute to poor maternal outcomes.

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