Sex & Life
Sex & Life July 20, 2017
Why is the U.S. behind other developed nations in maternal care?
The U.S. has the worst rate of maternal deaths in the developed world.
A recent investigation discovered the maternal mortality rate in the United States is higher than all other developed countries.
The maternal mortality rate represents the total risk associated with each pregnancy in a nation.
Put simply, it measures total deaths within the maternal period (defined by the Centers for Disease Control as the start of pregnancy to one year after delivery or termination).
Most people think of maternal mortality as a phenomenon that only occurred during the ‘olden days.’ It is typically assumed that women dying during childbirth is a thing of the past; a scene only shown in “Game of Thrones” (aka when Lyanna Stark dies from hemorrhaging after giving birth to Jon Snow).
However, these types of deaths still happen today, and more frequently than you probably think.
Today, the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate out of all other developed nations at 26.4 deaths per 100,000 live births.
The maternal mortality rate is rising in the United States as it declines across the globe.
One of the biggest global public health victories in recent years has been maternal mortality. The United States, however, has fallen behind the developed world in this trend. Despite significant improvements in healthcare under the Obama Administration and an enormous worldwide trend in the other direction, the maternal mortality rate in the U.S. has risen.
In addition to being behind other countries in women’s rights, the U.S. is also behind in maternal care. A joint investigation by NPR and ProPublica examines why American women are dying in childbirth at a higher rate than in any other developed country.
According to NPR, each year, anywhere from 700 to 900 American women die from pregnancy-related causes in the United States. Additionally, the U.S. has experienced a surge in pregnancy-related deaths over the past fourteen years.
During the investigation, they discovered many hospitals are poorly equipped to handle maternal emergencies.
They also found that only six percent of federal and state grants for “maternal and child health” are actually put toward the mothers’ care. Instead, more attention and money is given toward the infants’ health.
A report from the Maternal Mortality Review Committees lists the most common underlying causes including hemorrhage, cardiovascular and coronary conditions, mental health conditions, embolism, infection, cardiomyopathy, preeclampsia and eclampsia.
The leading underlying causes of pregnancy-related deaths vary by race, ethnicity and age. According to the report, black women have much higher rates of maternal mortality than white and Hispanic women. Additionally, women are likely to die from a pregnancy-related complications between the ages of 30 and 44.
The circumstances leading to maternal death are complex and involve many different factors. However, the report’s findings highlight many potential opportunities for action by health care providers.
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