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Disturbing Stats About American Mothers’ Risks During Delivery

The News-Register published a disturbing story this week which suggests that birth injuries are more likely to strike mothers in the United States than in most other places in the western world. The Illinois birth injury lawyers at our firm have often discussed how even though the term birth injuries usually refers to harm to a child, they can also include harm that mother’s experience during delivery. When that harm is preventable, then a birth injury lawsuit may be appropriate.

The News-Register story discusses the surprising fact that, even with our apparent advances in technology, women in the United States are more likely to die during childbirth than nearly every other developed country. Some of the overall stats are downright shocking. Worldwide, maternal mortality declined almost everywhere over the last twenty years. However, in the United States they doubled.

How could this be?

Many experts are actually pointing the finger at technological intervention in births which can be more dangerous than natural childbirth . For example, while delivering a child via cesarean section may be convenient for the doctors or the family, these surgical births often have more risks than regular births. This is why our Chicago birth injury lawyers have blogged frequently on the troubling rise in cesarean birth rates. More than one third of all births in the U.S. are delivered surgically. This is shocking, because surgical births should actually only be performed when necessary in certain emergency or high-risk situations. A midwife interviewed for the story explained, “Cesarean section is meant to be sort of a last resort, when there’s no way the baby is going to be born alive otherwise or the mother’s or baby’s life will be endangered.”

Interestingly, some also claim that the increase in C-section rates can be tied to unnecessary excesses in fetal monitoring. In theory the monitoring is suppose to allow the doctor to measure the baby’s health throughout the birthing process. However, some evidence suggests that the monitoring actually does not improve delivers. Instead it may cause doctors to panic and order unnecessary c-sections which then have the increased potential to harm the mother.

Beyond cesarean section rates, experts also believe that lack of access to health care is also part of the problem. When pregnant women do not receive proper pre-natal care or have familiarity with certain medical teams during delivery, then the chance of potentially deadly consequences rise. The problem is most stark when it comes to post-partum care-in the days and weeks after the birth. More than half (55%) of all maternal death occur more than 24 hours after the birth.

Finally, the rising age and obesity of mothers is a factor in the maternal death rates. Complications during birth are always more likely when a mother is older or is herself in poor health during the birth. However, our birth injury attorneys know that these factors do not necessarily remove all potential liability for a medical professional if they fail to act reasonably during the delivery. In other words, mothers who are older or have other health problems should not automatically assume that any problem they experience during the delivery was a result of their own situation and not other potential errors.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Dramatic Rise in Cesarean Births

Report Finds Recent Rise in C-Section Births