More Women May be Dying After Giving Birth

Filed under: In The News


As if the raging health care debate needed any more fuel added to its fire, a recent study in California indicates that the number of women dying from childbirth may be on the rise, having almost tripled in that state over the past decade, reports ABC News.

Maternal mortality is the term used in the yet to be released survey for women who die withing 42 days of giving birth, and is such a serious problem worldwide that the United Nations made reducing it to one of its eight Millennium Development Goals for 2015.

It's logical that impoverished countries where women have little access to modern health care would have high numbers of women dying in childbirth, but surely this country's state-of-the-art health care system performs admirably, right?Think again.

The United States ranks only 40th in a global comparison of maternal mortality rates -- with 11 deaths in every 100,000 live births -- tying us with Belarus and leaving us with the worst performance in the developed world, according to the World Health Organization. Ireland comes in first, with only one death in every 100,000 births; by comparison, Italy, Germany and Denmark saw three, four and three deaths, respectively.

The situation is even worse in California, ABC News reports. According to a survey conducted by the California Department of Health, the number of women who died there after giving birth has almost tripled in the past decade, rising to 16.9 deaths per 100,000 in 2006.

Many of those deaths are preventable.

"We've been able to double check the data so we can truly say there is a rise," Dr. Elliott Main, chairman of the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative, tells ABC News. "Most women died from hemorrhage, from deep vein thrombosis or blood clots, and from -- this is the surprise -- from underlying cardiac disease."

The California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative worked on the report.

The problem isn't confined to California. The Joint Commission, a major accreditation and certification group for hospitals, issued an alert this January warning that there may be a nationwide increase in maternal mortality rates. Among the leading causes for maternal death are bleeding, high blood pressure, blood clots, infection and pre-existing chronic conditions such as heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Related: In Britain, Half of Maternal Deaths Due to Being Overweight

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