Maternal death rate in the UK on the rise, MBRRACE-UK figures reveal

Posted By: Amy Tubb

11th January 2024

  • Research

1 minute read

Statistics released by MBRRACE-UK show that the maternal death rate in the UK has increased significantly over the past few years. Between January 2020 and December 2022, the rate was 13.41 per 100,000 maternities, up 53% from 8.79 per 100,000 in the previous three-year period from 2017-2019. This rate is the highest it has been in almost 20 years.

The primary cause of death was thrombosis and thromboembolism (blood clots), COVID-19 was the second most common cause of death, followed by heart disease and mental-health related causes. Even with COVID-19 deaths excluded, the maternal death rate increased by 31% to 11.54 per 100,000 maternities, compared to 8.79 in 2017-2019.

When reflecting on the ‘Saving Lives Improving Mothers’ Care 2023’ report, released last Autumn, the MMHA commented on the Government’s ambition to reduce maternal mortality in England by 50% by 2025. Instead of witnessing a decrease, the numbers have sharply risen. At this rate, this critical target will be missed.

More must be done to make sure we reverse the trends we’re seeing.

Laura Seebohm, CEO, Maternal Mental Health Alliance

Despite a slight decrease in the overall maternal death rate among women of Black ethnic backgrounds, they were still found to be three times more likely to die during pregnancy or shortly thereafter than white women. Women of Asian backgrounds were found to be twice as likely as white women to die during pregnancy or soon afterwards. Additionally, maternal death rates are over twice as high among women in the most deprived areas of the UK as those in the least deprived areas.

MBRRACE-UK's full report on the figures will be released later this year.

Read the data brief

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