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Maternal mental health conditions drive climbing death rate in US, research says

·2 mins

Maternal mental illness is a significant cause of pregnancy-related deaths in the US, according to an evidence review. National initiatives to address this issue often fail to prioritize mental health. The maternal mortality rate in the US is higher than in other high-income countries and has been increasing in recent years. More than 80% of pregnancy-related deaths in the US are preventable. Mental health disorders, such as suicide and opioid overdose, contribute to nearly 1 in 4 maternal deaths in the US. This rate is almost double that of postpartum hemorrhage, the second leading cause of pregnancy-related death. The contribution of mental health conditions to the maternal morbidity and mortality crisis in America is often overlooked. Women are at a higher risk of developing psychiatric disorders during and after pregnancy. However, only 20% of women are screened for postpartum depression. Access to comprehensive maternity care is limited in many states, leading to increased stress and untreated health complications for mothers. Limitations to reproductive health care, including access to abortion, also affect maternal mental health. Maternal trauma, prenatal stress, and social determinants of health also play a role in pregnancy outcomes. Racial and ethnic minority groups face systemic inequities that contribute to their higher levels of stress during the perinatal period. Black mothers have a higher mortality rate compared to white mothers, and they are less likely to receive treatment for maternal mental health conditions. National initiatives are mobilizing resources but need to prioritize mental health. It is recommended to improve interdisciplinary training for health professionals, mandate universal maternal mental health screening, and promote public education about family planning options. Programs to prevent postpartum depression and support access to perinatal mental health care have been successful models.