CDC Exaggerated Maternal Death Rates, Study Finds

by Mary Margaret Olohan


A new study has found that maternal death rates in the United States have likely been strongly exaggerated due to misclassifications of maternal deaths.

The study, published Wednesday in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, found that the United States’ maternal death rates have been inflated for the past two decades due to data-classification errors.

These errors were apparently due to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s changes in the way that pregnancy was referenced on death certificates, leading to an “overestimation of maternal mortality.”

The maternal death rate has actually remained flat, according to the study. “A definition-based approach, which requires the mention of pregnancy among the multiple causes of death on the death certificate, shows lower, stable maternal mortality rates in the United States and a temporal decline in deaths due to direct obstetrical causes,” the report said.

“There has been a lot of alarm and apprehension surrounding the fact that some of these reports show a threefold increase in maternal mortality, and that is not what we found. We found low and stable rates,” K.S. Joseph, the lead author of the study, told The Washington Post.

In a statement to The Daily Signal, the CDC disputed the study’s findings, claiming that the methods used in the AJOG report “are known to produce a substantial undercount of maternal mortality” because “there are maternal deaths occurring that would not otherwise be identified if the death certificate didn’t include a pregnancy checkbox.”

“Capturing these otherwise unrecorded maternal deaths is critical to understanding the scope of maternal mortality in the United States and taking effective public health action to prevent these deaths,” the CDC added. “The recent report’s analysis does not address this, nor does it provide evidence of how large any potential overcount may be. That said, the AJOG report confirms a prior CDC analysis, which found that the pregnancy box is sometimes mistakenly checked on death certificates, which contributes to some overcounting.”

The news comes as Vice President Kamala Harris visits a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Minnesota, making her the first vice president to visit such a facility. The move is intended to demonstrate President Joe Biden’s administration’s dedication to promoting abortion in the post-Roe v. Wade era.

“I’m here at this health care clinic to uplift the work that is happening in Minnesota as an example of what true leadership looks like,” Harris said, adding: “It is only right and fair that people have access to the health care they need, and that they have access to health care in an environment where they are treated with dignity and respect … [I]t is absolutely about health care and reproductive health care.”

She also sharply criticized efforts to protect the unborn across the nation, saying: “In this environment, these attacks against an individual’s right to make decisions about their own body are outrageous and in many instances just plain old immoral. How dare these elected leaders believe they are in a better position to tell women what they need, to tell women what is in their best interest.”

The visit also comes after Biden’s heated rhetoric on “reproductive rights,” birth control, and in vitro fertilization at last week’s State of the Union address, in which he accused Republicans of trying to restrict a woman’s “freedom to choose.”

Harris’ visit demonstrates an effort to “generate enthusiasm for the Democratic ticket among black, Hispanic, and young voters,” Axios reports. According to a poll released Thursday from the health policy research firm KFF, more than one-quarter of black female voters said that abortion is their top issue in the 2024 presidential election.

“It’s a complete shift,” KFF pollster Ashley Kirzinger claimed to The Associated Press, pointing to the fervor of white evangelical voters who turned out for then-presidential candidate Donald Trump in the 2016 election. “Abortion voters are young, black women—and not white evangelicals.”

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Mary Margaret Olohan is a senior reporter for The Daily Signal and the author of Detrans: True Stories of Escaping the Gender Ideology Cult. She previously reported for both The Daily Caller and The Daily Wire. Email her at [email protected].
Photo “CDC” by Raed Mansour. CC BY 2.0.




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