Maternal Deaths Double in Last 20 Years

When we saw a new report by Amnesty International titled Deadly Delivery we were absolutely shocked.

The likelihood of a woman’s dying in childbirth in the U.S. is five times as great as in Greece, four times as great as in Germany and three times as great as in Spain. Every day in the U.S., more than two women die of pregnancy-related causes, double the number who died twenty years ago.

A similar study in California recently found that childbirth related deaths have tripled there, and the Centers for Disease Control estimates that about half of these maternal deaths in the U.S. are preventable.

How is this possible and why is it happening? Lack of access to care is certainly one cause, but it’s not the only one. Poverty is an important risk factor, but we are all in danger.

Fragmented care and overuse of interventions like inducing labor and delivering via cesarean section also increase a woman’s risk of serious childbirth complications.

“Women are not dying from complex, mysterious causes that we don’t know how to treat,” says Nan Strauss, the Amnesty International report’s co-author. “Women are dying because it’s a fragmented system, and they are not getting the comprehensive services that they need.”

This is a national outrage, and here at MamasOnCall we’re more than a little surprised that this report hasn’t gotten more attention. Amidst all the political noise about healthcare reform, harsh realities are getting lost.

Women (and presumably their not-yet-born children) are dying … TWICE as often as 20 years ago. We’ll bet that if men with erectile dysfunction were biting the dust at double the prior numbers there would be a national foundation devoted to finding a cure. The Viagra Initiative, perhaps.

Start yelling, ladies, ’cause this is scary stuff.

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.


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4 responses to “Maternal Deaths Double in Last 20 Years”

  1. Paige

    I can’t believe what I just read! I too can’t believe this hasn’t received more media coverage! In this day and age, there is no excuse that every da, two or more when die due to pregnancy realed causes. Horrifying! Thanks for a great article.

  2. Karen

    When I was pregnant, I had a complete placenta previa and did a fair amt of research on the issue. I can’t tell you how many messages I saw on blogs, etc., that were from men who had recently been widowed (some as a result of undiagnosed PP and subsequent abruption) and in some cases were suddenly single fathers to boot. My heart just broke for them. They didn’t understand what had happened, and didn’t know what to do next.

    I was induced and had a c-section, and I was happy with my care, but this is, you’re right, unbelievable.

    But- on a happier note- I love your blog:) Rock on with your bad selves, and thank you!

  3. taqah

    Thank you for bringing this to light.

    This should be being discussed by everyone. It is scary how few people are aware of this. I certainly wasn’t until reading this. I knew C section rates had gone up and that this was a concern, I knew tha tthe US rate of maternal and infant mortality had fallen behind many countries especially in the EU. But to find out that there are more deaths now than in the past–that isn’t falling behind, that is appalling.

  4. brent geppert

    Does age have anything to do with these statistics? I heard that women in the US are giving birth later in life which may be driving these numbers.

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