To estimate the prevalence of pregnancy-associated deaths due to drugs, suicide, and homicide nationwide from 2010 to 2019.
Using U.S. death certificate records from 2010 to 2019 for 33 states plus the District of Columbia, we identified pregnancy-associated deaths using the pregnancy checkbox and International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision codes, calculated pregnancy-associated death ratios, and categorized deaths by cause, timing relative to pregnancy, race or ethnicity, and age.
Of 11,782 pregnancy-associated deaths identified between 2010 and 2019, 11.4% were due to drugs, 5.4% were due to suicide, and 5.4% were due to homicide, whereas 59.3% were due to obstetric causes and the remaining 18.5% were due to other causes. Drug-related deaths, suicide, and homicide accounted for 22.2% of pregnancy-associated deaths. All three causes of death increased over the study period, with drug-related pregnancy-associated deaths increasing 190%. Homicide during pregnancy and drug-related deaths, suicides, and homicide in the late postpartum period (43–365 days) accounted for a larger proportion of all deaths in these time periods than the contribution of these causes to all deaths among females of reproductive age. Pregnant and postpartum people identified as non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native were at highest risk of drug-related and suicide death, and people identified as non-Hispanic Black were at highest risk of homicide.
Deaths due to drug use, suicide, and homicide constitute more than one fifth of all deaths during pregnancy and the first year postpartum. Drug-related deaths and homicides have increased over the past decade. Substantial racial and ethnic inequities in these deaths exist.