Maternal Mortality among American Indian/Alaska Native Women: A Scoping Review

Jennifer L. Heck, Emily J. Jones, Diane Bohn, Shondra Mccage, Judy Goforth Parker, Mahate Parker, Stephanie L. Pierce, Jacquelyn Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Maternal mortality decreased globally by about 38% between 2000 and 2017, yet, it continues to climb in the United States. Gaping disparities exist in U.S. maternal mortality between white (referent group) and minority women. Despite important and appropriate attention to disparities for black women, almost no attention has been given to American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) women. The purpose of this scoping review is to synthesize available literature concerning AI/AN maternal mortality. Methods: Databases were searched using the terms maternal mortality and pregnancy-related death, each paired with American Indian, Native American, Alaska Native, Inuit, and Indigenous. Criteria (e.g., hemorrhage) were paired with initial search terms. Next, pregnancy-associated death was paired with American Indian, Native American, Alaska Native, Inuit, and Indigenous. Criteria in this category were homicide, suicide, and substance use. Results: The three leading causes of AI/AN pregnancy-related maternal mortality are hemorrhage, cardiomyopathies, and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. AI/AN maternal mortality data for homicide and suicide consistently include small samples and often categorize AI/AN maternal deaths in an "Other"race/ethnicity, which precludes targeted AI/AN data analysis. No studies that reported AI/AN maternal mortality as a result of substance use were found. Health care characteristics such as quality, access, and location also may influence maternal outcomes and maternal mortality. Conclusions: Despite AI/AN maternal mortality being disproportionately high compared to other racial/ethnic groups, relatively little is known about root causes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)220-229
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Women's Health
Volume30
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2021

Keywords

  • American Indian/Alaska Native
  • maternal deaths
  • maternal mortality
  • pregnancy-associated maternal mortality
  • pregnancy-related maternal mortality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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