Maternal Deaths Highest in Detroit

A look into the pregnancy related death rates in Southeastern Michigan showed that the City of Detroit had higher rates from 2008-13 (combined) than any other governmental unit reported for the region. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says pregnancy related deaths are those when a woman dies while pregnant or within one year of pregnancy from any cause related to, or aggravated by, pregnancy or its management. According to MDHHS data, the pregnancy related death rate for Detroit was 44.4 per 100,000 babies from 2007-13 (44.4 total). Pregnancy associated deaths, by contrast are those that occur while a woman is pregnant or within a year of pregnancy irrespective of cause; these deaths can include suicide, drug overdoses or medical causes such as cancer. The rate for Detroit was 62.7 per 100,000 babies for pregnancy associated deaths (48 total) from 2007-13. When comparing pregnancy associated deaths and pregnancy related deaths, the data shows that there were overall higher rates for pregnancy associated deaths. This is likely because pregnancy associated deaths encompasses a broader range of causes of death.

As stated, the data provided by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services shows that Detroit had the highest rate of pregnancy related death and pregnancy associated death rates in the region. For pregnancy related deaths, Wayne County had the lowest rate at 9.5 per 100,000 babies (9 total), for the counties where data were available. Wayne County’s rate excludes the deaths in the City of Detroit. In Southeastern Michigan pregnancy related rates for Livingston, Monroe, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties were not available because there were five or less deaths.

For pregnancy associated deaths Oakland County had the overall lowest rate at 28.6 (7 total). In Southeastern Michigan, pregnancy associated rates for Livingston, Monroe and Washtenaw counties were not available because there were five or less deaths.

According to an article from the Detroit News, high maternal death rates are related to chronic health conditions and high rates of poverty, both of which are common in Detroit.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services does not have data for 2014 and 2015 because it had not been reviewed by the State’s maternal death committees, as of early December, according to a representative from the department. In early 2017, Public Act 479 of 2016 was signed into law making maternal death reporting mandatory. Prior to this law reporting was voluntary.