Tags: maternal | death | mom | pregnancy

US Has Highest Maternal Death Rate of Any Western Nation

By    |   Friday, 08 May 2015 01:12 PM

American women have the highest rate of pregnancy-related deaths of any Western nation, and are more than 10 times as likely to die from a cause tied childbirth as those in Belarus, Poland, and Austria.

The State of the World’s Mothers 2015 report says a woman in the U.S. faces a one in 1,800 risk of maternal death — with 650 pregnancy-related deaths a year — giving the nation a global ranking of No. 61 on maternal health.

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Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization called the findings of the report “shocking and often counter-intuitive." She noted many women in affluent and poor countries alike have been left behind by spectacular medical and socioeconomic advances over the past century.

“Far too often, even the simplest and most affordable health-promoting and lifesaving interventions — like immunizations, vitamin supplements, safe drinking water, and prenatal check-ups — fail to reach them,” she said, in a foreword written for the report.

“Their plight is largely invisible. Average statistics for health indicators in cities conceal the vast suffering in slums and other pockets of poverty in rich and poor countries alike. State of the World’s Mothers 2015 puts these unmet health needs under the spotlight.”

The report, compiled by the charity Save the Children, ranks the best and worst places to be a mother based on the latest available data on maternal health, children’s well-being, political status of women, economics, education, and other factors.

Overall, the U.S. at No. 33 of 179 surveyed countries — down two spots from last year — No. 42 on children’s well-being, No. 61 on maternal health and No. 89 for political status (based on the participation of women in national government).

Among the other statistics, the report finds that an American child under the age of 5 is nearly just as likely to die (6.9 per 1,000 live births) as one in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Slovakia, or Macedonia.

The report is the latest to question access to quality healthcare quality in the U.S., despite the fact that Americans spend twice as much per-capita on medical services.

Other reports have shown the U.S. trails virtually every other affluent nation in life expectancy — placing dead last in a recent assessment of 16 nations by the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund — as well as the death rate from preventable illnesses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, several key factors are behind the U.S. maternal death rate:
  • Poverty, low income keep many women (particularly minorities in urban and rural communities) from getting prenatal care. Every month, thousands or women show up at hospital emergency rooms nine months pregnant, having never had a single prenatal visit.
  • Gaps in insurance coverage are barriers to hospital care for millions of women, a key factor driving up the number of home births (without a doctor, nurse, or midwife present) where complications can quickly become deadly. About 35 million Americans have no insurance — half of them women (mostly between the ages of 18 and 44).
  • C-section deliveries are increasing, with nearly one-third of U.S. births delivered by surgery, which increases risk for complications.
  • Many enter pregnancy with pre-existing conditions — heart disease, diabetes, obesity, kidney problems — that increase risks for such potentially life-threatening complications as bleeding, infection, breech births, embolism, heart failure, and anesthesia mishaps.
Women’s health experts say it’s critical for pregnant women to take critical steps to maintain their health — before, during, and after pregnancy — for their own safety and that of their children.

Among the recommendations:

• Adopt healthy lifestyles (maintain a healthy diet and weight, exercise, quit smoking, and avoid alcohol and substance use).
• Address health problems before getting pregnant.
• Get prenatal care, even from a public clinic.
• Visit a doctor at recommended scheduled visits.
• Follow appropriate medical advice and care for healthy pregnancies.

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American women have the highest rate of pregnancy-related deaths of any Western nation, a new report finds.
maternal, death, mom, pregnancy
Friday, 08 May 2015 01:12 PM
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