Moving backwards

U.S. maternal mortality rates continue to rise

A doctor examines a pregnant woman. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

An odd trend has been quietly unfolding in the U.S.: over the past quarter century the maternal-mortality rate in women has been slowly, steadily rising. America is one of only 8 countries where maternal-mortality rates are rising, a short list that includes health care hellholes such as Afghanistan and South Sudan. The root of this problem? There’s no official word yet, but the leading suspect appears to be poor health conditions, like obesity. Traditional causes of pregnancy-related deaths such as haemorrhaging have been on the decline in recent years, but deaths from cardiovascular conditions and other chronic problems are on the rise. Poverty is also strongly linked to worse health outcomes, due to poor women being unable to access proper health care. Many hope Obamacare’s widening of coverage will allow poor women to be in better health when they’re pregnant and receive better care before, during, and after childbirth, lowering mortality risks. Studies show that 40 percent of fatalities during obstetric emergencies are completely avoidable in the moment. Left without competent care, America’s poorest women are dying needlessly.

Read the full story at The Economist.

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