There is an assumption that death from childbirth is something that doesn’t happen in the United States. However, with an estimated 26 deaths per 100,000 live births, the United States leads industrialized countries with the highest maternal mortality rate. The U.S. has more than 3.5 times as many maternal deaths as in Canada and most Western European countries. Every year in the U.S., 700-900 women die from pregnancy or childbirth related causes, and some 65,000 nearly die. But what is causing such a high maternal mortality rate? It turns out there are multiple factors that may be contributing to the high numbers.
Women in the US Are Older and Not as Healthy
With obesity and diabetes rates on the rise in the United States, women in the U.S. are simply not as healthy as their counterparts in other countries. These health problems can lead to complications, such as preeclampsia, leading up to and after childbirth. In addition, women in the U.S. are getting pregnant later in life which can also lead to a host of complications.
Access to Healthcare
Some women experience difficulty in accessing basic healthcare before, during, and after their pregnancies. Many women don’t have health insurance, and under the system in the U.S., basic healthcare is not a guarantee. Even if a woman can find prenatal care during her pregnancy and immediately after, she may not be coming into the pregnancy healthy to begin with.
Women are Treated Differently in the American Healthcare System
When they can access healthcare, women are frequently not taken seriously by doctors and healthcare providers. A woman’s pain and symptoms are often treated as psychological concerns and not as actual medical issues. Serious health conditions are often downplayed in women.
This becomes especially true when medical professionals focus on the health of the child and not the mother. As the maternal mortality rate increases, the infant death rate decreases, falling to historic lows. The healthcare system worries more about the vulnerabilities of babies and less about the health of women. For instance, Medicaid, which covers 45% of births in this country, only provides insurance coverage for a mom for 60 days after birth while the infant is covered for a whole year.
Many life-saving practices that are used in other countries are still not used in the U.S. For instance, when it comes to preeclampsia, most developed nations have managed to reduce the rate of the disease by acting quickly and recognizing the symptoms. In Britain, they have reduced the rate of preeclampsia deaths down to one death per year while in the U.S., preeclampsia still kills somewhere between 50-70 women each year.
In addition, when women are discharged from the hospital after giving birth, they are given a wealth of information about how to care for their newborns and not much information on how to care for themselves postpartum. Women are not taught how to recognize the need for medical attention once they give birth and as a result, many women die within days or weeks of having a baby due to complications resulting from the birth.
If you or someone you love has been injured during childbirth, it may be due to the negligence of a healthcare provider, and you should have your case evaluated by an attorney. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we have over 50 years of experience helping New York families. Contact us online or call us at 1-888-MED-LAW1 to schedule your free consultation. Home and hospital visits available. Se habla espaňol.