Sep 19, 2016
The estimated mortality rate for mothers giving birth in the U.S. increased from 18.8 in 2000 to 23.8 in 2014, according to University of Maryland scientists. The maternal mortality rate is the annual number of deaths of mothers per 100,000 live births from any cause related to pregnancy. Close to 1,000 women died in 2014 during the delivery of their children.
This high U.S. maternal mortality rate puts the U.S. 30th in the world, just ahead of Mexico, among 31 countries reporting maternal mortality information. And in the U.S., the rate has been increasing – it is 27% higher over the past 14 years. By comparison, maternal mortality worldwide dropped about 44% between 1990 and 2015, according to the World Health Organization.
So, the situation is getting worse each year for pregnant U.S. women. Yet at the same time, scientists have made incredible discoveries that can save us from deadly health conditions not treatable a decade ago.
The above rates did not include Texas and California. The reported maternal mortality rate for Texas doubled within two years, 2011 and 2012, to levels not seen in any other states. The maternal mortality rate in Texas was 35.8 in 2014, according to the same scientists. There are reasons for this higher mortality rate (see separate article).
Only in California has the maternal mortality rate markedly decreased. In the Maryland study, the scientists said, “California has made concerted efforts to reduce maternal mortality ... contracting with the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative to investigate primary causes of maternal death. This collaborative developed and promulgated evidence-based tool kits to address two of the most common, preventable contributors to maternal death (obstetric hemorrhage and preeclampsia) and implemented quality improvement initiatives throughout the state.”
The example shows that simple public health improvements would prevent some of the deaths of mothers in pregnancy. Yet even California doesn’t measure up to other countries.
The U.S., one of the richest countries in the world and in history, chooses not to allocate the required and available resources and money to prevent women from dying in childbirth. It ranks alongside poor countries, in terms of its maternal mortality rate.
This is part of the “American way of life.”