A St. Augustine mother of four who died during childbirth will be laid to rest this week.
As her newborn son, Matthew Accurso Jr., fights for his life after his mother, Lauren Accurso, passed away while giving birth to him, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report released Tuesday that more U.S. women are dying from pregnancy-related causes.
Though the CDC report said more than half of those deaths are preventable, Accurso's family said it was a very rare and unpreventable medical emergency that took her life.
According to the CDC report, although pregnancy-related deaths are rare -- about 700 a year -- they have been rising for decades.
The report found that about one-third of maternal deaths happened during pregnancy, a third were during or within a week of birth, and the rest were up to a year later.
Overall, according to the report, heart disease and stroke caused more than one in three pregnancy-related deaths. Other leading causes included infections and severe bleeding. The leading causes of death varied by timing of the pregnancy-related death.
The CDC looked at about 3,000 pregnancy-related deaths from 2011 through 2015, using death certificates. Researchers also looked at more intensive investigations of about 250 deaths done in 13 states from 2013 through 2017.
The latter review determined that 60% of deaths were preventable.
The report also found black women, along with Native Americans and Alaska natives, are three times more likely to die before, during or after having a baby.
Though the report is heartbreaking, it may shed light on health concerns that can be managed safely and save another mother's life.
In the meantime, Accurso's family is praying for baby Matthew and planning a celebration of life for Accurso on Saturday at Crescent Beach Baptist Church at 885 State Road 206 East in St. Augustine. Before that, there will be a visitation from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at Craig Funeral Home at 1475 Old Dixie Highway in St. Augustine.
A donation account was created to support the Accurso family.