When it comes to outcomes, loss of productivity was by far the costliest for mothers ($6.6 billion). The most expensive outcomes for children were preterm birth, associated with a cost of $13.7 billion, and developmental issues ($6.5 billion).

A partial estimate

Since the study was only able to calculate the costs of conditions linked to specific outcomes, the estimate is to be considered partial, says So O’Neil, a senior researcher at Mathematica, a policy research organization, and the study’s lead author. Out of 31 conditions that were identified as affecting maternal health, only nine could be connected to quantifiable outcomes, which leaves more than 20 conditions that likely have an economic impact (including cardiovascular conditions, or blood clot disorders) but couldn’t be quantified based on the available literature.

“This speaks to the need for better quantification,” says O’Neil. While she doesn’t feel comfortable trying to guess how much of the costs weren’t captured by this research, she says it is a significant amount. “[The cost] could rival some of the most burdensome chronic conditions, she says.

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