- Texas has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world. (Source)
- In Texas, cardiac events, overdose by licit or illicit prescription drugs, and hypertensive disorders are the leading causes of maternal death. (Source)
- White women had the highest rates of diagnosed mental illness of any kind (depression as well as other psychological illnesses) in Texas during pregnancy and the puerperium; Black women had the second highest rates. (Source)
- The best state to have a baby is Vermont and the worst state to have a baby is Mississippi. (Source)
- Canadian researchers recently published an article stating that maternal mortality is not increasing in the United States because of more chronic health factors, but rather because of improved surveillance and documentation. (Source)
- 28 women out of 100,000 live births die per year in the United States. These statistics are based on data from 2013, the latest year data is available. (Source)
- California is the only state where maternal mortality rates have gone down. (Source)
- Women over 40 experience the greatest severe maternal morbidity factors in New York City and its surrounding areas. (Source)
- Since maternal mortality and morbidity data is difficult to assess, experts are calling on all states to standardize its data. (Source)
New York Times (1, 2)
Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force and Department of State Health Services: Joint Biennial Report
National Institutes of Health
New York City 2008 – 2012: Severe Maternal Morbidity
Image Courtesy of Uzuri Art.
When everyday Americans think about women dying during childbirth it is probable that their initial thoughts travel directly to Africa where it is quite well known that maternal mortality is rife. Chances are their thoughts never focus on the deaths and near deaths during childbirth that women experience right here in the United States. After all, the overwhelming consensus is that the United States has the best medical care, superior health workers and health system in the world despite some of its inherent challenges. This thinking renders maternal mortality in the US thoroughly inconceivable to many even while data reveal it should not be inconceivable at all. In fact, maternal mortality is on the rise in America having doubled over the past 25 years all while global maternal deaths are steadily declining. Globally, maternal mortality was effectively reduced by 44 percent according to the World Health Organization.
The United States, while not the overall leader in maternal mortality among all countries, it is the leader among all developed nations. The United States ranked number 33 out of 179 countries in Save the Children’s 2015 Mothers’ Index Ranking and 46th in the world due to the rate of women who die from pregnancy and childbirth complications. Compared to other developed countries, the United States’ ranking is abysmal, especially with Norway, Finland, and Iceland ranking in the top three overall. Even countries like Estonia and Belarus, whose GDPs are considerably lower than ours, far outrank America.
Continue reading The Troubling Truth About Maternal Mortality in the United States
Kareemah Gamieldien, Cape Peninsula University of Technology
Every year just over 500,000 women die from complications in pregnancy and childbirth across the world. Another 20 million experience severe complications. But many of these complications are entirely avoidable – including obstructed and protracted labour and one of its side-effects, obstetric fistula.
An obstetric fistula is a hole in the birth canal between the vagina and the rectum or between the vagina and the bladder that is largely caused by obstructed and prolonged labour. This can occur when the mother’s pelvis is too small or the baby is too large.
In sub-Saharan Africa for every 100,000 deliveries there are about 124 women who suffer an obstetric fistula in a rural area. Obstetric fistulas predominantly happen when women do not have access to quality emergency obstetric-care services. Antenatal care could help to identify potential problems early but will not have an impact if there is no skilled surgeon to assist with the labour.
Continue reading Better Maternal Care in Africa Can Save Women from Suffering in Childbirth
For years researchers who study maternal morbidity and mortality have been stumped as to why rates continue to rise and why women of color are adversely affected despite education, health care, and socio-economic factors.
A new report and the first of its kind released in May, New York City 2008 – 2012: Severe Maternal Morbidity, shows the myriad reasons why women of color, especially low-income, Black non-Latina, women fare the worse with severe maternal morbidity (SMM). While most studies in the past across the country focus on maternal mortality, this report focused on maternal morbidity, the causes of maternal mortality.
Continue reading NYC Report Tackles Maternal Morbidity Rates