As medical care grows more advanced and fewer people are having children, maternal death rates should be dropping. However, that’s not the case at all.
According to BBC, 2017 saw the lowest U.S.birth rate since 1987. Better sex education is producing fewer teen mothers, and many women in their twenties are choosing to wait when it comes to having children. These developments should mean fewer deaths, but it’s actually the opposite. In fact, a recent study has shown that the United States is one of the most dangerous countries in the developed world for delivering mothers.
A USA Today investigation has been examining cases in which deliveries have gone horribly wrong. The investigation explored over 150 cases and more than 500,000 pages of hospital quality records. The information they recovered is startling, and reveal the truth about the United States’ climbing maternal death rate.
USA Today reports that over 50,000 women are severely injured during childbirth, and approximately 700 more die while delivering their children. Many of the surviving mothers have no clue that their doctors and nurses were partially responsible for the complications. Over 75 birthing hospitals were contacted, and the investigation uncovered a disturbing trend.
The study revealed that many of these hospitals admitted to their lack of attention. Not tracking blood loss during delivery and failing to administer blood pressure medication are just two of the identified issues with their care.
Since 1990, maternal death rates in many countries have dropped dramatically. Germany, which previously saw 20 deaths per every 100,000, aggressively improved their care. Now, the death rate is under 10 for every 100,000 births.
The United States has backslid in this regard, and not by any small amount. Where France and the U.S. started at approximately 16 deaths, France has dropped to about 8. The United States has climbed to 26.4 deaths for every 100,000 births. This 2015 rate is higher than any of the 1990 maternal death rates for Japan, Canada, Germany, France, and England.
California is the only state in the U.S. to see a drop in maternal death rates, dropping by half. Everywhere else in the US, it’s risen.
This is doing more than harming women; it’s harming their families. Marco Mention, the husband of YoLanda Mention, lost his wife in 2015. She was released from the hospital after she giving birth to their third daughter, Serenity. YoLanda later returned to the emergency room and was left in the waiting room for hours. Doctors had sent her home despite her dangerously high blood pressure, and she suffered a stroke while waiting for medical attention.
Marco now spends his days trying to raise three children in Nesmith, a rural town in South Carolina. “It seems like a nightmare and I just need to wake up,” he said to USA Today while wiping away tears.
The United States’ medical system is failing women, especially mothers. The tragic deaths of YoLanda Mention and many others serve as proof, and the study is aiming to shine a light on this issue.