Homicide During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period in the United States, 2018–2019

October 07, 2021

by Wallace, Maeve PhD; Gillispie-Bell, Veronica MD; Cruz, Kiara MPH; Davis, Kelly MPA; Vilda, Dovile PhD


To estimate the national pregnancy-associated homicide mortality ratio, characterize pregnancy-associated homicide victims, and compare the risk of homicide in the perinatal period (pregnancy and up to 1 year postpartum) with risk among nonpregnant, nonpostpartum females aged 10–44 years.


Data from the National Center for Health Statistics 2018 and 2019 mortality files were used to identify all female decedents aged 10–44 in the United States. These data were used to estimate 2-year pregnancy-associated homicide mortality ratios (deaths/100,000 live births) for comparison with homicide mortality among nonpregnant, nonpostpartum females (deaths/100,000 population) and to mortality ratios for direct maternal causes of death. We compared characteristics and estimated homicide mortality rate ratios and 95% CIs between pregnant or postpartum and nonpregnant, nonpostpartum victims for the total population and with stratification by race and ethnicity and age.


There were 3.62 homicides per 100,000 live births among females who were pregnant or within 1 year postpartum, 16% higher than homicide prevalence among nonpregnant and nonpostpartum females of reproductive age (3.12 deaths/100,000 population, P<.05). Homicide during pregnancy or within 42 days of the end of pregnancy exceeded all the leading causes of maternal mortality by more than twofold. Pregnancy was associated with a significantly elevated homicide risk in the Black population and among girls and younger women (age 10–24 years) across racial and ethnic subgroups.


Homicide is a leading cause of death during pregnancy and the postpartum period in the United States. Pregnancy and the postpartum period are times of elevated risk for homicide among all females of reproductive age.

Homicide is a leading cause of death during pregnancy and the postpartum period in the United States.

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