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Birth Complications Rising in the U.S.?

A troubling news story published in the Chicago Tribune last week suggested that, despite advances in medicine and slowly increasing knowledge of the way to prevent injury to children during their delivery, birth complications are actually on the rise. The story is a clear reminder of the need for all of us to remain cognizant of all risks faced by mothers and new children during pregnancy, delivery, and in the early stages of development.

The centerpiece of the article was a new U.S. government study which found that, while still rare, there was an increase in recent years of severe complications during birth. The research effort was published in a recent edition of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. For purposes of this research the “complications” referred to in this effort include things like strokes, severe bleeding, and heart attacks. The information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that in recent years there were about 129 such complications per 10,000 live births in the U.S. That rate marks a significant 75% increase from just a decade ago. On top of that, post-delivery complications also saw increases–jumping 112% from the previous decade up to 29 complications per 10,000 births.

Clearly the generic assumption that medical outcomes automatically get better year after year is not true.

So what could be the cause of these somewhat surprising findings?

Researchers quoted in the article note that the problem may be rooted in who is having children now as opposed to in the past. In particular, more women at risk of developing these complications may be giving birth now whereas in the past they did not have children. In particuar, mothers who are obese, have high blood pressure, or diabetes may be giving bith now. Similarly, more older mothers may now be having children later in their life as well. It is well known that the older a women giving birth above a certain age, the more likely they are to have a wide range of problems during the pregnancy and delivery.

Coupled with this research on the overall risk of birth complications, was another research effort from the CDC. That separate study found that minority women might face the highest risk of complications. Those women accounted for 62% of all pregnancy-related deaths, but they are only 41% of the population. In the past, some medical experts have argued that this disprecency might be related to the prenatal-care difference on the whole between different groups of mothers. The healthier that the mother is throughout the pregnancy, the better chance of a safe delivery.
However, if a mother has health issues before and during the pregnancy, and those issues are not addressed before the birth, then the risk of harm to the mother increases. This is why there are many efforts underway to ensure that certain populations which might shun medical care during pregnancy (often out of monetary concerns) actually recieve the pre-natal help they need to ensure their well-being.

Some birth inuries and medical complicatons are not preventable, but many others are preventable. It is critical to follow all doctors advice closely to ensure you best position yourself for a safe delivery. However, if you suspect that a complication was caused by medical negligence or mistakes, please get in touch with out team of injury lawyers to see how we can help.

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