Media Tip Sheet: U.S. Maternal Mortality Rate Climbs for Third Straight Year

March 17, 2023

WASHINGTON (March 17, 2023) - The number of maternal deaths in the United States increased by more than one-third in 2021 compared to the year before, according to a new report by the National Center for Health Statistics. The study found communities of color were disproportionately affected. It also marked the third consecutive year that America’s maternal mortality rate increased.

GW faculty experts are available to provide insight, analysis and commentary on the latest findings and the state of maternal health in the United States. If you would like to speak with an expert, please contact GW Media Relations at [email protected].

Emily R. Smith, an assistant professor of global health at the GW Milken Institute School of Public Health, recently published a study showing that pregnant women with COVID-19 are seven times higher risk of dying during pregnancy or childbirth. She can discuss the current trends in maternal mortality and why COVID-19 puts pregnant women at greater risk. 

WATCH: Hear from Emily Smith on her latest research regarding COVID-19 and pregnancy here

Wanda Nicholson, Senior Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the GW Milken Institute School of Public Health, is a physician trained in both obstetrics and gynecology and epidemiology. She can comment on the high rates of maternal mortality in the US, particularly for women of color. 

Amita Vyas, director of the GW Maternal and Child Health Center at Milken Institute School of Public Health, can discuss the maternal mortality rate in the United States and what can be done to keep mothers and new babies healthy from the start.

Julia Strasser, Director of the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health, can discuss maternal mortality in the US. Her research focus is on access to health care and how that can affect a woman’s health.

Nancy Gaba, is a professor and Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences and is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She also serves on D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee

Linda Cassar, clinical associate professor at the GW School of Nursing, has worked primarily with the maternal/child health patient population over her 30 years as a nurse, working in Labor and Delivery, Mother/Baby, High-Risk Antepartum, and Outpatient Community Perinatal Education. Dr. Cassar’s research includes evaluating nurses’ support for newly delivered breastfeeding mothers as well as factors that contribute to compassion fatigue in Labor and Delivery nurses and how compassion fatigue in L&D nurses might contribute to higher maternal mortality rates.