News & Updates

Report: Maternal Morbidity, Mortality Trending in the Wrong Direction

September 4, 2018

Report: Maternal Morbidity, Mortality Trending in the Wrong Direction

Institute for Medicaid Innovation and AHRQ analysis of data to help address crisis, find solutions

Washington, DC, September 17, 2018 – The Institute for Medicaid Innovation (IMI), the non-profit Medicaid research group, joined forces with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to reveal startling new trends in maternal morbidity and mortality. The results presented in the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) Statistical Brief showed disparities in delivery hospitalizations involving severe maternal morbidity over a 10-year period.

Severe maternal morbidity are unexpected outcomes of childbirth that result in substantial short- or long-term consequences to the mother including acute myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism, sepsis, and other life-threatening conditions. While rates of severe maternal morbidity have been increasing overall in the US, the situation is bleaker for minority and low-income pregnant women.

This report showed the rate of severe maternal morbidity at delivery increased 45 percent from 2006 through 2015, from 101.3 to 146.6 per 10,000 deliveries. Furthermore, severe maternal morbidity was 112-115 percent higher for blacks than for whites in 2006 (164 vs. 76) and 2015 (241 vs. 114), with no change in the disparity between races. And although deaths decreased for all races/ethnicities, in-hospital mortality was three times higher for black women than white in 2015 (11 vs. 4 per 100,000 deliveries).

“The alarming rates of maternal morbidity and mortality presented in this report will help inform the national efforts to address this problem,” noted Jennifer E. Moore, PhD, RN, co-author of the report and executive director of IMI.  “The collaborative effort between AHRQ and IMI to identify these trends are critical if we are to find solutions.”

To access the statistical brief, “Trends and Disparities in Delivery Hospitalizations Involving Severe Maternal Morbidity, 2006–2015,” visit For more information, contact Dr. Moore at or 202-857-5724.

About the IMI 
The Institute for Medicaid Innovation (IMI) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit research organization that provides independent, nonpartisan information and analysis that informs Medicaid policy and improves the health of the nation.

Media contact:
Lydia Tonkonow ​​​​​​​