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Pregnancy-Related Mortality in California: Causes, Characteristics, and Improvement Opportunities

  • Christy McCain, MPH
  • Main, Elliott K. MD; McCain, Christy L. MPH; Morton, Christine H. PhD; Holtby, Susan MPH; Lawton, Elizabeth S. MHS
Close up shot of a pregnant person's stomach

A study of pregnancy-related deaths in California analyzed the leading five causes of death and examined the maternal and clinical characteristics among each cause. The five leading causes were cardiovascular disease, preeclampsia, or eclampsia, hemorrhage, venous thromboembolism, and amniotic fluid embolism. Causes of death exhibited different patterns of race, maternal age, body mass index, timing of death, and method of delivery. Overall, there was a good-to-strong chance to alter the outcome in 41% of deaths, with the highest rates of preventability among hemorrhage (70%) and preeclampsia (60%) deaths. Health care provider, facility, and patient contributing factors also varied by cause of death.

Read the study.


The Pregnancy-Associated Mortality Review is a collaboration between the California Department of Public Health, the Public Health Institute and the California Maternal Quality of Care Collaborative at Stanford University.  

Originally published by Obstetrics & Gynecology


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