Texas Maternal Mortality Rate: An Alarming New Report

The death of just one mother during pregnancy or childbirth is one too many. But advances in medicine help prevent this from happening. So shouldn’t the Texas maternal mortality rate be in decline? 

A new report shows that the opposite is happening. Texas mothers are losing their lives at alarming rates. The top causes of maternal mortality may surprise you. 

Have you lost someone close to you due to complications during pregnancy or childbirth? Could their death have been prevented? Contact our expert lawyers today. We specialize in birth injury, and have won hundreds of cases for victims of medical malpractice. 

What’s in the 2022 Maternal Mortality Texas Report?

Although it was delayed, an important new report on Texas maternal mortality is now available to the public. The Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee (MMMRC) released it on December 16th, 2022. 

The report examined the deaths of Texas mothers spanning the last decade, but mainly the last 3 years. It brought to light important findings about what caused these deaths, and whether they could have been prevented. 

What was the purpose of the Texas Maternal Mortality Rate Report?

The report examined each death individually. The MMMRC worked to pinpoint the underlying cause of death and what factors contributed to it. While determining whether a mother’s death was pregnancy-related or not, the MMMRC asked the question, “If she had not been pregnant, would she have died?”

With this data, the committee hoped to:

  • Analyze trends in maternal mortality in Texas
  • Establish updated Texas maternal mortality rates
  • See whether racial disparity played a part in maternal deaths
  • Make recommendations based the findings

Key Findings from the 2022 Report:

The report contains pages and pages of important information. But certain data and details have shocked and surprised state politicians and maternal health advocates. Let’s take a look at key facts from making the rounds in the news:

  • Most deaths were preventable. There was some degree of opportunity to save the woman’s life in 90% of cases in 2019. 
  • Between 2018 and 2020, the rate of severe complications in pregnancy and childbirth has skyrocketed. In 2018, it was 58.2  per 10,000 cases. In 2020, it was 72.7 cases per 10,000.
  • The top cause of maternal death is obstetric hemorrhage. This term refers to excessive bleeding during pregnancy, childbirth, or postpartum. 
  • Most cases of hemorrhage leading to death resulted from an ectopic pregnancy. This is a nonviable type of pregnancy where a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. 
  • The Texas maternal mortality rate hasn’t improved since 2013. It has stayed about the same or crept a bit higher as the years pass. 
  • Some women lost their lives in pregnancy due to a doctor or hospital’s mistakes. But 27% of all pregnancy-related deaths in Texas were classified as homicide or suicide. 
Findings from 2022 Texas Mortality and  Morbidity Review.

Discrimination Contributed to Pregnancy-Related Deaths

One of the most disheartening findings of the new report was the fact that racial discrimination and disparity plays a part in maternal deaths in Texas. 

A previous MMMRC report stated that in 2013, black women lost their lives during pregnancy or childbirth four times more than Hispanic women, and two times more than white women. Have those numbers changed? 

Not at all. The numbers haven’t budged. Black women continue to have more complications in pregnancy and childbirth. In 2022, they’re still at higher risk than other groups.

As State Rep. Shawn Thierry put it, “The time has come for us to have a real conversation as to why these disparities continue to exist for Black women.”

Part of the reason “why” is already known: black women suffer from discrimination. In fact, the new report found that discrimination was a contributing factor in 12% maternal deaths in 2019. That’s huge! 12% is already a lot—but the real numbers could be much higher. One of the committee members, Nakeenya Wilson, said that the 12% comes from the system they currently use to define discrimination. But it may not include all cases. 

Why is the Texas Maternal Mortality Rate So High?

Texas is one of the 10 states with the highest maternal deaths. The state currently ranks number 8 on the list. In 2018, the rate was 34.5 per 100,000. 

Note that maternal mortality in Texas is higher than the national average (17 deaths per 100,000 births).

Here are a few possible contributing factors:

  • In Texas, many women don’t have health insurance. It’s one of the states with the highest number of uninsured.
  • Many women in the state do not have access to adequate prenatal/postnatal health care. 
  • Medical malpractice is rampant in our country and in the state of Texas. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in the US.

If you suspect malpractice contributed to your loved one’s death, don’t hesitate to contact us. We offer free consultations to help you understand your legal options and obtain justice for your family. 

Maternal Mortality FAQs

What are the top 4 causes of maternal mortality?

According to the World Health Organization, the top 4 causes of maternal mortality are:

– Severe bleeding after childbirth
– Infections (mostly after childbirth)
– Pre-eclampsia and Eclampsia (high blood pressure)
– Delivery complications 

Together with unsafe abortions, these 4 issues cause 75% of all maternal deaths.

What is the leading cause of death in postpartum?

The leading cause of death in the postpartum period (the period following childbirth) is maternal hemorrhage. This condition is also known as postpartum hemorrhage (PPH). Hemorrhage is the medical term for excessive bleeding. Some bleeding after giving birth is normal. However, problems with the uterus, issues with the placenta, or certain medical conditions can cause some women to bleed in excess. Women can die from maternal hemorrhage if doctors fail to recognize and manage this condition promptly. 

Why is maternal mortality so high in the US?

Research shows that maternal mortality rates continue to climb in the U.S., largely due to these factors:

– People are having children later in life
– More people have chronic conditions, like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes
– There are gaps in access to quality healthcare among marginalized communities
– Racial bias and socioeconomic factors cause people of certain ethnicities to have less access to quality healthcare than others. Black women, in particular, experience much higher rates of maternal mortality than white women.

What are the two types of maternal death?

The two types of maternal death are direct and indirect maternal deaths. Here’s a quick explanation of each category:

Direct Maternal Deaths: These deaths result from complications or conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth, or the postpartum period. They include severe bleeding, high blood pressure disorders, infections, and complications from unsafe abortions.

Indirect Maternal Death: Indirect maternal deaths result from pre-existing or newly developed health conditions that pregnancy didn’t cause. But they get worse because a woman is pregnant, leading to the woman’s death. Examples include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, or other chronic medical conditions.