Childbirth and Pregnancy Complications Continue to Cause Hundreds of Maternal Deaths: Report

Nearly 700 women in the United States die each year as a result of complications associated with pregnancy or childbirth, according to a new study that suggests little progress has been made to reduce the problems, and African American women face the highest risk.

Despite recent focus on trying to reduce maternal death rates, pregnant women in the U.S. continue to face about the same level of medical risks if they are pregnant, going into labor, or recently had a child, according to data in a U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study published last week in U.S. National Vital Statistics Report.

More than 650 women nearly die from pregnancy related complications in the United States each year, and while the number of women dying each year due to pregnancy or childbirth in the United States has not worsened in recent years, the continuing risk that women face is largely seen as avoidable, as CDC researchers note that more than 60% of pregnancy-related deaths should be easily preventable.

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In the U.S., there are 17.4 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. However, the maternal death rate among African American women was 37 deaths per 100,000 live births, which is nearly three times the rates for white and Hispanic women.

Another CDC study published last year also found that black women face an increased risk of pregnancy related deaths. African American women died during pregnancy or child birth 2.5 times more often than white women and 3 times more often than Hispanic women. CDC researchers said more research is needed to understand the racial disparity gap in maternal mortality in the U.S

Older women also face an increased risk, with the death rate among women older than 40 at 81.9 per 100,000 deaths, a rate eight times the number for women under 25.

U.S. Falling Behind Most Developed Countries

The maternal death rates in the U.S. are higher than other developed countries, the researchers found. A study published in 2015 indicated women in the U.S. are four times more likely to die during childbirth than women in Greece, Iceland, or Poland.

If you compare the CDC data to other countries, the U.S. maternal mortality ranking is 55th, ranking worse than Russia and nearly all other developed countries.

Heart disease and stroke caused one in three pregnancy related deaths between 2011 and 2015 in the U.S. Other leading causes of maternal death included infections, hemorrhage, high blood pressure during pregnancy, complications from delivery and unsafe abortions.

Maternal death rates have been a concern in recent years and some studies suggest many hospitals do not do enough to prevent maternal deaths. Research indicates pregnancy related deaths are linked to lack of access to high quality health care, missed or delayed diagnoses, and lack of knowledge among patients and doctors regarding early warning signs for many pregnancy-related conditions.

Tags: Pregnancy

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