Statement from March of Dimes Chief Medical and Health Officer on CDC's 2021 Maternal Mortality Report

March 16, 2023

A troubling new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds the number of U.S. women dying from pregnancy-related issues continues to climb. 1,205 deaths were reported in 2021, reflecting an increase of nearly 89% in the maternal mortality rate since 2018. While these rates significantly increased for all race and ethnic groups, Black women are 2.6 times more likely to die than White women and 2.5 times more likely to die than Hispanic women. This underscores the significant racial and ethnic disparities that continue to persist across key maternal health measures.  

In response, March of Dimes Senior Vice President and Chief Medical and Health Officer Dr. Elizabeth Cherot issued the following statement:  

“We have long known the threat of maternal mortality and morbidity is especially acute for women of color. The rate of maternal deaths among Black women nearly doubled and rates for Hispanic women more than doubled from 2019 to 2021. The fact remains that the U.S. healthcare system has historically failed people of color, including during the crucial times of pregnancy and postpartum. It’s imperative that we have reliable and consistent tracking measures in place across our country to help us evaluate and address maternal deaths. More work needs to be done to better understand who is affected by maternal mortality and the circumstances of their death.  

This report is also a sobering reminder of the devastating impact of COVID-19, which has exacerbated pre-existing health disparities facing our nation’s moms. It further demonstrates that our country’s maternal and infant health crisis is far from over, and is in fact getting worse for our most vulnerable communities. Pregnant people are at higher risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19. They are also more likely to be admitted to the hospital and need care in the Intensive Care Unit during their stay.  

As the crisis becomes more dire for those most at risk, we are addressing these causes with real action. March of Dimes supports families everyday through programs, education, research and advocacy to ensure all moms and babies -- regardless of race, gender, wealth or geography -- get the best possible start. We are combating long standing healthcare disparities by providing Implicit Bias Training to healthcare providers, advocating for #BlanketChange to ensure all women have access to quality, culturally-appropriate care during, before and after pregnancy and addressing poor outcomes through our recently-launched March of Dimes Research Center for Advancing Maternal Health Equity.”

The U.S. needs #BlanketChange to improve equity, access, and prevention for all moms and babies. Sign on for #BlanketChange and add your voice to the thousands of advocates calling for improved outcomes for moms, babies and families across the nation.


March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We support research, lead programs and provide education and advocacy so that every family can have the best possible start. Building on a successful 85-year legacy, we support every pregnant person and every family. To learn more about March of Dimes, please visit