In a recent study, researchers are estimating that maternal death rates in the U.S. are on par with those of developing countries. The number of women dying from pregnancy related causes is the largest it has been in a quarter of a century. The scientists say that there are 18.5 maternal deaths for every 100,000 births, translating into 800 maternity deaths in 2013 alone. The reason for such an increase in the fatalities is unknown, but researchers think it could be a combination of factors. These are the highest the numbers have been since 1987, when the fatality rate was 7.2 per 100,000 births. However, there was a sharp increase in 2009. That year, it was thought that the H1N1 pandemic contributed to the spike in rates. Although the rate has dropped a bit since then, it is still way above that of other developed nations.
In fact, maternal deaths in the U.S. are right on par with developing countries like El Salvador and Belize. That is double what countries like the United Kingdom, Canada and Saudi Arabia are experiencing. Nations such as Africa, Afghanistan, and Greece have also seen a dramatic increase in mothers dying, unlike East Asia and Latin America, which has seen a drop in their maternal death rates. It is now less dangerous to give birth in China than it is in the U.S., making people wonder what is causing the number of deaths to keep climbing.
Some experts believe it is simply due to better record keeping; the numbers on high-risk pregnancies are being kept in a more sophisticated manner; and the fact that more and more deaths are being certified as maternal mortalities. However, due to this fact, it has also been revealed that other pregnancy-related diseases are increasing as well, including diabetes and hypertension. Furthermore, the knowledge of more dangerous pregnancies has spurred medical professionals to be on the lookout for conditions that may not have been looked at in the past.
It is thought that such deaths in the U.S. are preventable and that they reflect the poor state of the health care system. Women having access to healthcare while pregnant is crucial to preventing maternal deaths in the U.S. Having a doctor before becoming pregnant can also lower the staggering death rate by allowing the would-be mother to know if she has pre-existing conditions that could impact her pregnancy.
Having a regular doctor would allow the mother to seek treatment before becoming pregnant thus reducing the risk of maternal death. There is also the need for improving techniques for helping with conditions that contribute to premature maternal death. Hemorrhaging and obstructed labor can be prevented with the right surgical approach. The Center for Disease Control has also listed infections and cardiovascular diseases as major factors in the death rate among mothers, but lists anesthesia as having the lowest impact. Around the world, 293,000 women died due to pregnancy and delivery complications in 2013, down from the high number of 376,000 back in 1990, putting the U.S. on par with developing countries around the globe in relation to its maternal death rates.
By Korrey Laderoute