Maternal Mortality, United States and Canada, 1982–1997

Authors

  • Donna L. Hoyert PhD,

    1. Donna Hoyert is with the Division of Vital Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hyattsville, Maryland; and Isabella Danel is with the Division of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia. Patricia Tully is with the Health Statistics Division, Statistics Canada, Ottawa, Canada.
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  • Isabella Danel MD, MSc,

    1. Donna Hoyert is with the Division of Vital Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hyattsville, Maryland; and Isabella Danel is with the Division of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia. Patricia Tully is with the Health Statistics Division, Statistics Canada, Ottawa, Canada.
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  • Patricia Tully BA(Hons)

    1. Donna Hoyert is with the Division of Vital Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hyattsville, Maryland; and Isabella Danel is with the Division of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia. Patricia Tully is with the Health Statistics Division, Statistics Canada, Ottawa, Canada.
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Address correspondence to Donna L. Hoyert, PhD, Mortality Statistics Branch, National Center for Health Statistics, Room 820, 6525 Belcrest Road, Hyattsville, MD 20782.

Abstract

Background:The 1998 public awareness campaign on Safe Motherhood called attention to the issue of maternal mortality worldwide. This paper focuses upon maternal mortality trends in the United States and Canada, and examines differentials in maternal mortality in the United States by maternal characteristics. Methods:Data from the vital statistics systems of the United States and Canada were used in the analysis. Both systems identify maternal deaths using the definition of the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases. Numbers of deaths, maternal mortality rates, and confidence intervals for the rates are shown in the paper. Results:Maternal mortality declined for much of the century in both countries, but the rates have not changed substantially between 1982 and 1997. In this period the maternal mortality levels were lower in Canada than in the United States. Maternal mortality rates vary by maternal characteristics, especially maternal age and race. Conclusions:Maternal mortality continues to be an issue in developed countries, such as the United States and Canada. Maternal mortality rates have been stable recently, despite evidence that many maternal deaths continue to be preventable. Additional investment is needed to realize further improvements in maternal mortality.

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