Does The Maternal Death Rate In The U.S. Really Mirror The Third World?

Nichole Tucker

The maternal death rate in America has greatly increased, according to a recent study. Although the United States promised to lower the maternal death rate by 75 percent in their Millennium Development Goals commitment, the United States has instead let the health of expectant mothers slip, and the maternal birth rate has increased by a whopping 27 percent.

According to CBS, out of 100,000 live births, at least 24 mothers die on the day of or within 42 days of giving birth. Even more shocking, CBS reports that official data on birth mortality has not been accurate, and instead estimated the ratio to be 16 to 100,000. Some public health experts find this new data to be shocking, while others feel that America is still in the safe zone.

"Certainly, maternal death is still a rare event. But it's of great concern that the rate is not improving -- it's increasing."
"The current maternal mortality rate places the United States far behind other industrialized nations. There is a need to redouble efforts to prevent maternal deaths and improve maternity care for the four million U.S. women giving birth each year."

Hospitals cannot turn pregnant women away because they didn't have prenatal care or don't have health insurance. So hospitals then have the responsibility, once they take someone in, to adhere to all of their pregnancy needs. This means monitoring blood pressure, administering oxytocin immediately after a woman gives birth, and educating them as much as possible on what symptoms to look out for once they are realized.

The only answer is that these things are not being done in the United States. This means that the maternal death rate increase is clearly that result of a failed health system. The authors of the study agree and recently made an official statement to that fact.

"It is an international embarrassment that the United States, since 2007, has not been able to provide a national maternal mortality rate to international data repositories. This inability reflects the chronic underfunding over the past two decades of state and national vital statistics systems. Indeed, it was primarily a lack of funds that led to delays (of more than a decade in many states) in the adoption of the 2003 revised birth and death certificates."

[Image via iStock]