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Women in the United States live an average of five years longer than men, and the black-white gap in female life expectancy is now at a record low. But a variety of issues and disparities remain. Here’s a look at a few data points when it comes to women and health.

This presentation is part of The Sun’s annual Women to Watch.

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Life expectancy gaps have narrowed

Note: Life expectancy data for the 1970-2017 time period is not available for other races due to known issues of misclassification and under-reporting on death certificates.
Note: Life expectancy data for the 1970-2017 time period is not available for other races due to known issues of misclassification and under-reporting on death certificates. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Causes of death

Leading causes of death for women
(Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Maryland Vital Statistics Annual Report)

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, followed by cancer.

In Maryland, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women, after lung cancer.

Maryland had the seventh-highest female breast cancer mortality rate (22.9 per 100,000 women) in the country between 2010 and 2014. Nationally, the rate was 20.5 per 100,000 women.

Breast cancer mortality rates
(Source: Maryland Department of Health, 2017 Cancer Data report)

Maternal and infant mortality

Among wealthy nations, the United States is tied for the highest maternal mortality rate and has the second highest infant mortality rates, according to estimates recently released by the United Nations.

Note: Includes high-income Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries.
Note: Includes high-income Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries. (Source: World Bank World Development Indicators)

In Maryland, maternal mortality rates have declined in recent years, according to the Maryland Maternal Mortality Review 2018 Annual Report. However, this is mainly a result of a decrease in the white maternal mortality rate.

Black mothers in Maryland die because of pregnancy or childbirth-related complications at a rate of 44.6 deaths per 100,000 live births — 3.7 times higher than white mothers. The maternal mortality rate for all races was 23 deaths per 100,000 live births. Detailed data on other races was not published.

Maryland’s infant mortality rate was 6.5 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2017, according to data from the state Department of Health. That’s higher than the national rate of 5.7, a difference the department attributes to the fact that the state contains a higher proportion of black residents than the country. In recent years, both black and white infant mortality rates have also been lower in Maryland than nationally. However, racial disparities persist within the state.

Infant mortality rates
(Sources: Maryland Department of Health; United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimates)

Opioid overdose deaths

Opioid overdose deaths have skyrocketed among both men and women. Maryland’s death rates are twice as high as the national rate. The largest increase is attributed to cases involving synthetic opioids, including fentanyl.

Opioid overdose deaaths
(Source: Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics)

Domestic violence

Domestic violence statistics
(Sources: Maryland Department of State Police, 2017 Uniform Crime Report; Centers for Disease and Control, National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey)

State abortion restrictions

The Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights nonprofit, analyzes each state to determine whether its policies are restrictive to, or supportive of, abortion.

Note: As of Aug.15.
Note: As of Aug.15. (Source: Guttmacher Institute)

Baltimore Sun designer Tracie Rawson contributed to this report.

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