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.
- American Indian/Alaska Native
- maternal deaths
- maternal mortality
- pregnancy-associated maternal mortality
- pregnancy-related maternal mortality
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Medicine