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Maternal death rate among black women 2.5 times higher than white women, new report finds

Black women in the United States die during pregnancy or in the months after giving birth 2 1/2 times more often than white women and three times more often than Hispanic women, according to new data.

The maternal mortality rate for non-Hispanic black women was 37.1 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2018, according to data released Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

Among all women, a total of 658 were identified as “having died of maternal causes” in the U.S. in 2018, or an estimated 17.4 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, the data found.

Some positive news surrounding those statistics is that they show the U.S. maternal mortality rate has not sharply increased. For the past several years the U.S. has had the worst maternal mortality rate among developed countries and the only one where the rate has been rising, according to a 2017 investigation by ProPublica and NPR.

A maternal death is defined as the “death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy from any cause related to the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

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