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A Hidden Problem – America’s Maternal Death Rate

It is undeniable that the United States is a world leader, but there is one area where standing out is not something to brag about. According to a report in Medical Express, America is one of only eight countries where the rate of maternal deaths is on the increase. While the United States averaged 12 deaths out of 10,000 live births between 1988 and 1992, that ratio reportedly increased to 28 deaths per 10,000 live births between the years of 2008 and 2012. The United States was the 29th safest country for giving birth in 2005. According to reports, it has now descended to the 60th safest country. This research suggests that the maternal death rate in America is moving in the wrong direction.

The article gives a number of reasons for the country’s high rate of maternal deaths:

***Lack of adequate prenatal care – A lack of health insurance often keeps low income women from obtaining proper medical care during their pregnancies.
***Frequently performed C-section deliveries – For a variety of reasons, labor and delivery doctors are performing an increased number of C-sections. When these procedures go wrong, serious injuries and death often result.
***Hemorrhaging – While some blood loss is normal during childbirth, excessive bleeding can have deadly implications.
***Infections – Mothers may become infected for a number of different reasons. Some infections are even caught while the mother is in the hospital preparing to give birth.
***High-risk pregnancies – Medical conditions, like obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure put the mother baby at risk. They can also lead to substantial complications during pregnancy and delivery.

When maternal deaths are viewed from a global perspective, the most common explanations are medical complications. About 25% of all deaths reportedly occurred between the outset of labor and 24-hours after delivery. While another 25% happened during the pregnancy, the remaining 50% of maternal deaths occurred within one year of delivery.

Dr. Nicholas Kassebaum authored the maternal death study. He is quoted in the Medical Express article as stating, “For American women, high-risk pregnancies and the number of women with inadequate access to preventive and maternal health care are just two potential causes of this trend.” He went on to say “the good news is that most maternal deaths are preventable, and we can do better.”

When Maternal Deaths Occur

If doctors don’t do better, the health of the mother and child are at risk. When deaths occur, families are left to deal with the loss of a loved one and babies are left without their mothers. In these situations, there may be liability on the part of the doctor or medical facility. Proving these allegations is a significantly difficult task that is best handled with the assistance of an experienced attorney.

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