CDC study finds mental health concerns are the leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths

The Centers for Disease Control has released a new study that found 4 out of 5 pregnancy-related deaths are preventable.
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 4:14 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Centers for Disease Control has released a new study that found 4 out of 5 pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. More than half of those deaths occurred after delivery.

22% of deaths occurred during pregnancy, 25% occurred on the day of delivery or within seven days after, and 53% occurred between 7 days to 1 year after pregnancy.

Along with welcoming a family member, many health risks come with pregnancy. According to this research conducted by the Maternal Mortality Review Committee, most pregnancy-related deaths could have been prevented.

The leading underlying causes of pregnancy-related death include:

  • Mental health conditions (including deaths to suicide and overdose/poisoning related to substance use disorder) (23%)
  • Excessive bleeding (hemorrhage) (14%)
  • Cardiac and coronary conditions (relating to the heart) (13%)
  • Infection (9%)
  • Thrombotic embolism (a type of blood clot) (9%)
  • Cardiomyopathy (a disease of the heart muscle) (9%)
  • Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (relating to high blood pressure) (7%)

Doctors are encouraging new moms and moms-to-be to get early and regular care from a doctor both during and after pregnancy.

“There are a lot of resources available that people aren’t aware of,” said Mercy OB-GYN Hospitalist Dr. Chandria Johnson. “And so, especially in the Substance Abuse and different Drug Use and Mental Health Services, there are a lot of resources available specifically for pregnant and postpartum people to help provide resources for treatment and support during pregnancy and postpartum to help decrease those complications. It all kind of falls back to getting early, consistent prenatal care so we can get people plugged in with those available services.”

Doctors at mercy say that they do frequent mental health screenings to help connect new moms who may be struggling with resources to get help.

“We do a screening test that we do in the hospital with the mom before she goes home from the hospital,” said Dr.Johnson. “Then that screening test is administered at the pediatrician visits for the first six months, and that helps screen people for mental health symptoms, and if that screen is abnormal, then the pediatrician can talk to the patient briefly and get referred back to their OB-GYN or their primary care doctor to get set up for treatment and other support services.”

Having the baby blues for a few weeks is normal, but if you notice you’re feeling worse, it may be time to talk to your doctor. Some of the symptoms you need to watch for are

  • If you are having severe sleep disturbances and cannot rest while the baby is sleeping.
  • If you struggle to take care of your baby or don’t feel cane to connect or bond with your new little one.
  • If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself, your child, or someone else.

If you struggle with your mental health after having a baby, reach out to your doctor. If you are in an emergency mental health situation, dial 988 and speak with someone on the crisis hotline.

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