Maternal Death Rate in U.S. Doubles in 20 Years

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Even with the tremendous sums spent on health care and its advances in medicine, the United States is more dangerous for women giving birth than dozens of other countries. A new report published by Amnesty International says that more than two women die every day in the U.S. from complications of pregnancy and childbirth, and that maternal mortality ratios doubled over a 20-year period, from 6.6 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1987 to 13.3 in 2006 the latest year for which full statistics are available.

While Amnesty International admits that some of the increase is due to improved data collection, it also faults the U.S. for not doing more to improve the availability, accessibility and quality of maternal health care.
American women have a higher risk of dying of pregnancy-related complications than those in 40 other countries, including Greece, Germany and Spain. Conditions are particularly bad for African-American pregnant women in the U.S., who are nearly four times more likely to die than white pregnant women. In New York City, the maternal death rate for black women is 83.6 per 100,000 live births.
Half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are covered by private health insurance and 42% by Medicaid. Almost half of pregnancies are unplanned.
-Noel Brinkerhoff


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