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Pregnant Women in America Die More Often Than in Iran

The human lifespan is increasing and disease is decreasing, but a new study reveals some unsettling setbacks.
Photographer: Jamie Grill/Blend Images/Getty Images

The rate at which American women are dying from causes related to pregnancy or childbirth is on par with Iran, China, and some nations that made up the Soviet bloc. The difference is that in those countries, the prognosis is for improvement. In America, it’s not.

The disturbing trend is a counterpoint to global progress on healthy childbirth, according to a comprehensive new study. More than 275,000 women died worldwide last year in pregnancy, childbirth, or complications from it, most of the deaths preventable. In the U.S. these deaths have increased about 2.7 percent a year since 2000, to 26.4 deaths for every 100,000 live births, or 1,063 total, last year. (Iran has a lower rate and saw 281 maternal deaths in 2015).