U.S. Leads Wealthy Nations in Pregnancy-Related Deaths

By Amy Norton HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, November 18, 2020 (HealthDay News) – American women are much more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than women in other wealthy countries – and a national shortage of maternity care providers bodes ill for the future.

These are some of the findings of a new report on maternal mortality by the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund, which compared the United States to 10 other high-income countries.

He found what the researchers called “unacceptable” numbers.

In 2018, the maternal mortality rate in the United States was 17 per 100,000 births, more than double the rate in most other countries. These figures relate to deaths during pregnancy and within 42 days of termination of pregnancy.

But many women die later in the so-called “fourth trimester,” or the year after childbirth.

And of all pregnancy-related deaths in the United States, 52% occurred after childbirth, according to the report. When women died within a week of giving birth, it was often linked to severe bleeding, infections, or high blood pressure. Later in the postpartum period, the main cause of death was cardiomyopathy, a weakening of the heart muscle.

“Even though the United States spends more on health care than anywhere else in the world, it has higher rates of these preventable deaths,” said report co-author Roosa Tikkanen, senior research associate at Commonwealth Fund.

The United States has long maintained this dubious distinction. And maternal mortality is another area where racial disparities are glaring: Black women have more than double the death rate of white women in the United States.

The new report adds a layer, Tikkanen said – by examining differences in countries’ healthcare systems that may explain why the United States is doing so badly.

A key difference is the supply of maternal care providers, including obstetricians / gynecologists and midwives.

Almost all other wealthy countries except Canada have many more suppliers relative to the population. In the United States, there are 15 providers per 1,000 births, while Sweden has 78 per 1,000, according to the report.

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