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Maternal Deaths Are on the Rise in the United States

Maternal Deaths Are on the Rise in the United States

Maternal deaths are on the rise in the United States, making the country one of just eight in the world to experience the increase. 

Pertinent Points

- Maternal deaths continue to rise in the United States.

- The United States is just one of eight countries in the world to experience the increase.

- In the latest report to mark the problem, researchers estimated that 18.5 mothers died for every 100,000 births in the US in 2013, for a total of almost 800 deaths....

In a report published this month in The Lancet, researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Seattle reported that between 2003 and 2013, Afghanistan, Belize, El Salvador, Guinea-Bissau, Greece, Seychelles, South Sudan, and the United States were the only countries to have had increases in maternal mortality rates.

Researchers estimated that 18.5 mothers died for every 100,000 births in the United States in 2013, for a total of almost 800 deaths. That is more than double the maternal mortality rate in Saudi Arabia and Canada, and more than triple the rate in the United Kingdom. It also means that maternal deaths related to childbirth in the United States are nearly at the highest rate in a quarter century.

By comparison, the maternal death rate per 100,000 US women was 12.4 in 1990 and 17.6 in 2003, according to the report published this month in The Lancet by researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Seattle.

"For American women, high-risk pregnancies and the number of women with inadequate access to preventive and maternal health care are just two potential causes of this trend," said study author Nicholas Kassebaum, MD, Assistant Professor at IHME in a news release. "The good news is that most maternal deaths are preventable, and we can do better."

The status of maternal deaths in the United States was part of a larger report on the global, regional, and national levels and causes of maternal mortality from 1990-2013. The findings suggest that only 16 countries will achieve a target of a 75% reduction in the maternal mortality ratio (or number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births) by 2015.  

The study ranked countries on maternal deaths, putting the United States at 60 in the list of 180. In 1990, the United States ranked 22, again showing how the country has fallen behind globally. By contrast, China rose to number 57, up from number 116 in 1990.

 
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