C-Sections, Obesity Cited in Rise of Pregnancy Deaths African-American women have four times the risk By John Johnson, Newser Staff Posted Apr 26, 2011 4:24 PM CDT 11 comments Comments African-American women have a greater risk of a pregnancy-related death. (Shutterstock) (Newser) – A new report in California shows a troubling rise in deaths related to pregnancy, with Caesarean sections and obese mothers blamed in part for the spike. Maternal deaths rose from 8 per 100,000 live births in 1999 to 14 per 100,000 births in 2008, reports the Bay Citizen. African-American women had four times the risk. In general, the state review found that too many women were entering pregnancy already overweight, and it identified cardiovascular disease as a chief factor in maternal deaths for the first time, notes Los Angeles Times. The report also singled out the rise in C-sections, and the complications they can bring, as a contributing factor to the overall increase.