The investigation, which is led by Oxford Population Health’s National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, includes data on all women who died during pregnancy or within six weeks after their pregnancy had ended in the UK between January 2020 and December 2022. The data have been published ahead of the full Saving Lives, Improving Mothers’ Care report, which will be published later this year.
The key data show that:
• The maternal death rate in 2020-22 was 13.41 deaths per 100,000 maternities. This is significantly higher than the maternal death rate of 8.79 deaths per 100,000 maternities reported in the previous complete three year period (2017-19);
• Even when deaths as a result of COVID-19 are excluded, the maternal death rate for 2020-22 (11.54 deaths per 100,000 maternities) remains higher than the rate for 2017-19;
• Thrombosis and thromboembolism was the leading cause of death in women who died during pregnancy or within six weeks of their pregnancy ending. COVID-19 was the second most common cause of death, followed by heart disease and mental-health related causes;
• The maternal death rate for women from Black ethnic backgrounds has decreased slightly from the rate in 2019-21 but Black women remain three times more likely to die compared to White women. The maternal death rate for women from Asian ethnic backgrounds remains two times higher than that of White women;
• Women living in the most deprived areas still have a maternal death rate more than twice that of women living in the least deprived areas.