New Research Finds The No. 1 Cause Of Death For Pregnant Women In The U.S.

There have been many studies on maternal mortality in the United States in an attempt to find out what medical or environmental conditions lead to more deaths during pregnancy. For example, in 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic began, the mortality rate of pregnant women increased dramatically though it wasn't due to the virus itself as much as it was a result of women not receiving proper health care, either afraid of or being unable to attend regular medical visits (via U.S. News & World Report).

Typically, the most common causes of maternal mortality are cardiovascular conditions such as high blood pressure, hemorrhaging before, during, or after delivery, or sepsis, a serious bloodstream infection (via CDC). Strides have been made to address these medical conditions, including getting optimal prenatal care. Now, a new study shows that the top cause of death in the United States for pregnant women has nothing to do with any existing medical conditions.

Pregnant women are more likely to die due to homicide

A new editorial in the medical journal the BMJ cites homicide as the top cause of death in the United States for pregnant women, explaining that women who are pregnant or have just given birth are more likely to die by being murdered than due to leading pregnancy-related medical conditions. The authors of the editorial are calling for stricter gun control and increased screening for intimate partner violence during pregnancy. The majority of murders are a result of intimate partner violence and are executed using firearms. A study in Obstetrics & Gynecology found that guns were used in close to 70% of pregnancy-associated homicides.

"Intimate partner violence or domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors where one partner in a relationship works to gain power and control over another partner," explains Deborah J. Vagins, President & CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (via Healthline). "Generally, it can take a variety of forms of abuse, such as physical abuse, emotional and verbal abuse, financial abuse, and sexual abuse." Additionally, Vagins also says that the recent abortion ban will have devastating consequences, "Abortion services are essential healthcare and having equal access—for all people, everywhere. For domestic violence survivors, abortion access is a matter of safety."

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.