The amount of U.S. women dying from childbirth is rising. In fact, the maternal mortality rate is the highest it has been in decades. Although the relative risk of death from childbirth is small, it is still alarming that the rates are rising. As medicine and technology advances, it is usual to see death rates fall. However, in this case they have rose despite medical advances. To doctors and researchers, this is shocking.
In the past, maternal mortality rates were much higher than they are today. Around the turn of the twentieth century, maternal death occurred in approximately one in 100 live births. Since that time, the rates dropped. In 1977, the maternal mortality rate dropped to 10 in 100,000 live births. The rate continued to stay relatively stagnant until 2003. That year, the rate was 12 per 100,000, the first time the rate rose above 10 in more than twenty years. The rate again rose in 2004 to 13 in 100,000 live births. Despite the rise, the actual number of maternal deaths per year is fewer than 600.
Researchers have a number of theories as to why the rates are rising. Many believe that the rise in deaths is directly associated with the rise in caesareans. C-sections now account for approximately thirty percent of births. The surgery comes with an increased risk for many deadly side-effects such as infections, blood clots, and excessive bleeding. Researchers believe that obesity could be a another factor. Obese women are more likely to have problems with their pregnancy such as diabetes and high blood pressure as well as complications during delivery. Another factor researchers believe could contribute to the rise in the death rate is the age of the mothers. More women are waiting to have children and it isn’t uncommon to see women in their thirties are forties giving birth. Advanced maternal age is known to cause complications during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Researchers also believe that the rate increased because of changes in the way the data is reported.
The researchers found some interesting data when researching the rates. For example, black women are more likely to die from childbirth than are women of other races. In fact, the maternal mortality rate of black women is more than three times higher than that of white women. This is probably because black women have a higher risk of complications. Statistics also show that black women are more likely to receive little or no prenatal care. Interestingly, the researchers found that in many cases, the quality of care may have resulted in maternal death. Researchers believe that at least forty percent of the deaths could have been prevented. The researchers also found that there is often no apparent reason why maternal death occurred. In numerous cases, no cause and or/ explanation of death could be found.
Experts do not want women to become overly alarmed by these findings. More research needs to be done to figure out exactly why the rates increased. Also, it needs to be determined if this trend is continuing. It is a possibility that the rates simply rose for a short period of time and may fall again. At this time, it is not known if this is an ongoing trend. Researchers also want women to realize that the actual number of maternal deaths each year is small and the relative risk of dying from childbirth is still less than one percent.