U.S. women are more likely to die during childbirth than women in any other developed country, leading the U.S. to be ranked 33rd among 179 countries on the health and well-being of women and children.
Women in the U.S. face a 1-in-1,800 risk for maternal death, the worst among the developed nations surveyed in Save the Children's 16th annual State of the World's Mothers report (PDF).
The study, published with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Johnson & Johnson, relies on data from the World Health Organization's Center for Health Development's 2003-2011 demographic and health surveys.
The data is consistent with the numbers in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's pregnancy mortality surveillance system. Pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. have risen from 7.2 per 100,000 live births in 1987 to 17.8 in 2009 and 2011, according to the CDC.
There are considerable racial disparities within the overall number, according to the CDC. The maternal death rate is 42.8 per 100,000 live births for black women, compared with 12.5 for white women and 17.3 rate for women of all other races. The top causes of U.S. pregnancy-related deaths in 2011 were cardiovascular disease, 15.1%; non-cardiovascular disease, 14.1%; infection or sepsis, 14%; and hemorrhage, 11.3%.