Melinda Gates reveals a disturbing US trend that will be highlighted in her 2019 annual letter

Bill and Melinda Gates

Ted S. Warren/AP

Bill and Melinda Gates are getting ready to release their annual letter. Here's what's in it.

  • Bill and Melinda Gates are getting ready to unveil their annual letter for 2019.
  • This year, Gates told Business Insider that one of the topics highlighted will be the disturbing rising trend of maternal deaths in the US.
  • Each year, 700 women die due to pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes. The rate per 100,000 births is steadily going up, and it's the worst of any developed country.

The US has the worst death rate for women during childbirth of any developed country.

More than 700 women die each year due to pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes, according to National Geographic. Black women have three times as high a mortality rate as white woman during pregnancy or childbirth.

The US maternal mortality rate is only getting worse, an NPR and ProPublica investigation found, while it's improving everywhere else.

This alarming issue is increasingly weighing on Melinda Gates, cofounder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Organization.

Gates spends a lot of time advocating for gender equality and women's issues, from maternal health to improving workplace experiences. Her foundation has given $280 million to the Global Financing Facility, which helps identify and solve women's and children's health problems.

In an interview with Business Insider, Gates acknowledged that the US childbirth mortality rate is "incredibly disturbing." She said she plans to weigh in on the problem in her and her husband's forthcoming annual letter for 2019. The letter and its contents have not been released yet.

Here's the relevant portion of Business Insider's interview with Gates:

Alyson Shontell: The US has the highest death rate for women during childbirth than any developed country, I believe. More than 700 women die a year here, and black women have three times as high a mortality rate than white woman. Are you thinking about maternal health in the US?

Melinda Gates: Those statistics are incredibly disturbing, so we are definitely looking at that.

Bill and I are actually writing about that a little bit in our annual letter this year. A lot of those births have to do with preterm birth, which is happening more with African-American women. We need to unpack why that is happening. Is it barriers in their communities? Is it something genetic? Is it both? Is it stress?

We need to focus on that in the United States. So yes, we are looking at that.

For more on Gates' global health initiatives, how her organization is fighting to keep millions of children alive past age 5, and how we're close to eliminating deadly diseases like malaria and AIDS, check out our full interview with Melinda Gates.

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