The NC Maternal Mortality Review Committee (MMRC) of the NC Division of Public Health has issued its 2024 report on maternal deaths in the state associated with pregnancy.  The report presents the most recent data available from 2018-2019.

The MRCC was instituted in 2015 by legislation that was supported by the NC Medical Society in partnership with the NC Ob/Gyn Society and other stakeholder groups. The committee consists of twenty members, including ob/gyns – Kate Menard, MD, Stephanie Pierce, MD, Maria Small, MD, Jim Devente, MD, and Jennifer Glover, MD.

This 2024 report presents an overview of maternal deaths in North Carolina during the 2018-2019 period.  Notable datapoints in the report included:

  • “The MMRC reviewed 181 NC resident deaths occurring from 2018 to 2019.
  • 42% (n=76) of the cases were determined to be pregnancy-related.
  • Among the 76 deaths occurring in 2018 and 2019 classified as pregnancy-related by the MMRC, mental health conditions were the overall leading cause of death, comprising nearly one-third of all cases (31.6%, n=24).
    • Twenty pregnancy-related deaths were attributed to overdoses.
  • Eight pregnancy-related deaths were homicides:
    • For non-Hispanic Black individuals, the increase in pregnancy-related mortality ratios (PRMRs) was associated with an increase in pregnancy-related homicides.
  • Nearly all the overdose deaths involved opioids (18 of 20) and fentanyl was noted in 14 of the 20 overdose cases.
  • Among the 76 pregnancy-related deaths, more than half occurred during pregnancy, delivery, or within 42 days postpartum (n=40; 52%).
  • Discrimination was determined to be a probable contributing factor in 53 pregnancy-related deaths (69.7%) and was the most common contributory factor recorded.
  • The majority (85.5%) of pregnancy-related deaths occurring in 2018 and 2019 were preventable, that is ‘the committee determined that there was at least some chance of the death being averted by one or more reasonable changes.’”

The MMRC defines a “Pregnancy-Related Death” as:

“A death during pregnancy or within one year of the end of the pregnancy from a pregnancy complication, a chain of events initiated by pregnancy or the aggravation of an unrelated condition by the physiologic effects of pregnancy. “

“Pregnancy-Associated Death” is defined as:

“A death during pregnancy or within one year of the end of pregnancy from a cause that is not related to the pregnancy.”

The full report is available online at: 2018-2019 Maternal Mortality Review Report.