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Preeclampsia Pregnancy Complications Cost U.S. Health Care Billions: Study

The findings of a new study suggest that pregnancy complications involving preeclampsia, which can cause life-threatening hypertension among expecting mothers, costs the U.S. healthcare system more than $2 billion per year. 

Researchers with Harvard Medical School and Precision Health Economics, of California, published a study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology last week, which tried to determine the financial cost of preeclampsia complications, the leading cause of death among pregnant women in the U.S.

Preeclampsia is a form of pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, which only occurs during pregnancy or postpartum, but can lead to seizures and strokes. Risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease or having preeclampsia during a prior pregnancy.

The study involved a review of data from a number of healthcare databases nationwide collected from 2012, to determine the cost of the condition. According to the findings, preeclampsia increased the probability of an adverse health event from 4.6% to 10.1% for mothers that year. It also raised the likelihood of an adverse health event for the newborn from 7.8% to 15.4%.

“In 2012, the cost of preeclampsia within the first 12 months of delivery was $2.18 billion in the United States ($1.03 billion for mothers and $1.15 billion for infants), and was disproportionately borne by births of low gestational age,” the researchers concluded.

The findings come after a recent investigative report that found that U.S. doctors lag behind those in other developed nations in treating and preventing injury or death from preeclampsia.

Globally, preeclampsia kills about five women an hour. However, the death risk from preeclampsia varies widely between developed countries and third world countries.

In the U.K, preeclampsia occurs in about 1 out of every 1 million pregnancies. Between 2012 and 2014, there were only two deaths from preeclampsia in the U.K.. In the U.S., nearly 70 women, or eight percent of all maternal deaths, die from preeclampsia each year.

The condition is quite treatable, however healthcare staff must act quickly and be trained properly, which is one of the biggest problems in the U.S.

Nearly 1,000 women in the U.S. will die from various childbirth related causes each year. Nearly 65,000 women will face near death from child birth complications in the U.S. That’s triple the death rate of Canada, even accounting for the difference in population.

Maternal deaths in the U.S. increased from 2000 to 2014. Causes of those deaths included massive hemorrhage, blood clots, infections, and preeclampsia–all preventable causes.

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