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Why is the U.S. maternal mortality rate on the rise?

The United States has seen a dramatic spike in the number of maternal deaths during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and in the first year after giving birth. The CDC indicates three out of every five maternal deaths are preventable.


Living in the United States should make people in West Virginia feel that they have access to the best health care possible. However, when it comes to pregnancy, childbirth and the first year after delivery, it seems that American women today face a serious risk of dying unnecessarily.

Rising number of women dying

According to National Public Radio, the maternal mortality rate in the U.S. is far and away the worst among all developed countries worldwide. To make matters worse, the U.S. is the only developed nation to experience a rise in the rate of mothers dying before, during or after childbirth.

Between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality rate in the U.S. spiked a dramatic 26.4%. The sharpest increase was seen between 2000 and 2015. In contrast, maternal mortality rates across Western European countries, Australia and Canada dropped between 3.8% and 9.2% in that same time.

On average, more than 130 women experience pregnancy- or childbirth-related complications every day, adding up to 50,000 such complications annually. Of those women, two die each day making the annual maternal death count around 700. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes that at least three out of every five maternal deaths should be preventable.

Factors in maternal deaths

A USA Today report looked at some of the factors involved in maternal deaths and found that heart disease and stroke were often identified to play a role regardless of when the women died.

Among deaths that occur during labor and delivery, excessive bleeding and leaking of amniotic fluid into the mother’s bloodstream were common problems. Weak hearts contributed to many of the deaths among new mothers within the first year after giving birth.

The hospital and provider roles

Reports have exposed that many hospitals fail to track trends regarding maternal safety. In addition, it has been discovered that many providers or hospitals do not appropriately recognize warning signs and therefore do not pursue diagnostic procedures that may lead to proper and early treatment of complications. This has been found to still be a problem in West Virginia as well as in other states.

Hospital have been blaming mothers for the high rate of maternal death but now the lens is being turned on them. Experts are indicating that development of standards of care and adherence to those standards may help reduce the rate of death among mothers.

West Virginia families deserve help

Mothers and other family members who believe they may not have been provided the proper care during pregnancy, labor and delivery, or after a birth deserve help. Anyone facing a pregnancy- or childbirth-related complication or maternal death should reach out to an attorney for help to determine how best to seek justice and compensation.