CDC Public Health Grand Rounds: Meeting the Challenges of Measuring and Preventing Maternal Mortality in the United States


Reducing a woman’s risk of dying from pregnancy or childbirth complications remains a focus of the public health efforts in the United States. Dramatic reductions in maternal mortality seen throughout the 20th century have been followed by a period of stalled progress in preventing maternal deaths. Moreover, the United States is the only developed nation currently experiencing a rising maternal mortality ratio. In 1991, the pregnancy related mortality ratio was 10.0 per 100,000 live births, increasing to 17.3 in 2013. The degree to which the increased maternal mortality ratio can be attributed to enhanced identification of maternal deaths, versus actual increases in risks, is uncertain. It is certain however, that economic, racial, and ethnic disparities persist. In the United States, black women have a 3- to 4-fold increased risk of death due to pregnancy complications compared with white women. Improved measurement of maternal deaths is needed to better understand the causes of these disparities.

This session of Public Health Grand Rounds will focus on current efforts to improve the measurement and prevention of maternal mortality in the United States, as well as address the challenges and new opportunities that coincide with this important maternal health indicator.


  • Eleni Tsigas, Chief Executive Officer, Preeclampsia Foundation: Maternal mortality beyond the numbers
  • William Callaghan, MD, MPH, Chief, Maternal and Infant Health Branch, Division of Reproductive Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Accounting for maternal deaths: action requires better data
  • Lisa Hollier, MD, MPH, FACOG, Chief Medical Officer, Women’s Health, Texas Children’s Health Plan / President-elect, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists /Chair, Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force: Policies and practices to protect the lives of pregnant women and mothers and mothers to be
  • Mary-Ann Etiebet, MD, MBA, Executive Director, Merck for Mothers: Role of public-private partnerships in generating evidence for high impact solutions

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