American Women 10 Times More Likely to Die of Pregnancy & Childbirth

In a new report from Commonwealth Fund, it has been shown that American women are more likely to suffer from dangerous health outcomes associated with childbirth and pregnancy than the other developed world. The study was published yesterday on the official website of the organization in question.

The major finding of the study showed that US had the highest maternal mortality among high-income countries in the world. The data highlighted that a woman giving birth in America was 10 times more likely to die than a woman in New Zealand. The live birth rates for both countries were, 17.4 and 1.7 deaths per 100,000, respectively.

Maternal mortality is one of the key health indicators that are used to judge the quality of health of a population, particularly women. Maternal mortality not only affects women, but also has far reaching implications for the family unit and the wellbeing of the child being brought in the world.

In United States, there are rampant health inequities when it comes to health, in context with race, gender, insurance type, income level, and geographical level. Reports suggest that these inequities are actually widening since the COVID-19 pandemic has begun and now this new report shows how the country is failing its women, while claiming to be the front runner for innovation, technology, and freedom.

The new report looked at data from reliable health reporting organizations from United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, New Zealand, Germany, France, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, and United States. The analysis of all this health data related to pregnancy, childbirth and deaths, revealed that American women were far more likely to end up dead while giving birth, compared to these other 10 countries.

A highlighted area which seems to be contributing to these numbers is the American healthcare workforce. Fears were raised by the authors of the report that more women might lose their lives during pregnancy, if the COVID-19 pandemic keeps on affecting the already far-stretched workforce.

United States and Canada have a very low number off OB-GYNs and midwives, having only 12 and 15 providers per 1,000 live births. Other countries in comparison have 2 to 6 times this workforce. But the issue does not only revolve around the workforce. There are multiple factors at play here that are putting the lives of expectant mothers at risk.

Statistics show that the situation is quite grave. It has been reported that 17% of maternal deaths in America occur on the day of delivery, whereas more than half of maternal deaths occur after birth. The deaths occurring after the birth usually happen from one week after giving birth to one year.

Women of color are also more likely to die while giving birth compared to white women.

The report also showed that out of all the countries, United States is the only one that does not make sure that an expectant mother get at least one home visit by a nurse or mid-wife. Research has shown that home visits can actually improve outcomes like increased breast feeding, improved mental health of the mother, and reduction in costs.

An important finding also showed that US was the only country that did not guarantee a paid maternity leave to mothers after the birth. All other countries ensured that the new mothers got at least 14 weeks of paid leave from work. Many of them even provided a maternity leave for up to six months. It has already been established that maternity leave can provide enormous benefit to the emotional and physical health of both mother and child.

The authors of the study explained that policy changes regarding workforce, insurance, postpartum check-ups, and paid maternity leave should be the focus of US to help improve the numbers related to maternal mortality.

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