US Has Worst Rate Of Maternal Deaths In Developed World, 60% Preventable: Report

The United States has the worst rate of maternal deaths in the developed world despite spending the most money on health care.

ProPublica reports how the U.S. for-profit health care system, which Republicans call the “best in the world,” often fails new mothers:

Every year in the U.S., 700 to 900 women die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes, and some 65,000 nearly die — by many measures, the worst record in the developed world.

American women are more than three times as likely as Canadian women to die in the maternal period (defined by the Centers for Disease Control as the start of pregnancy to one year after delivery or termination), six times as likely to die as Scandinavians.

In every other wealthy country, and many less affluent ones, maternal mortality rates have been falling; in Great Britain, the journal Lancet recently noted, the rate has declined so dramatically that “a man is more likely to die while his partner is pregnant than she is.”

But in the U.S., maternal deaths increased from 2000 to 2014. In a recent analysis by the CDC Foundation, nearly 60 percent of such deaths were preventable…

ProPublica notes that the causes for these unnecessary deaths is a combination of  incompetence, corporate greed and other factors:

New mothers are older than they used to be, with more complex medical histories. Half of pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, so many women don’t address chronic health issues beforehand. Greater prevalence of C-sections leads to more life-threatening complications.

The fragmented health system makes it harder for new mothers, especially those without good insurance, to get the care they need. Confusion about how to recognize worrisome symptoms and treat obstetric emergencies makes caregivers more prone to error.

In true U.S. “pro-life” fashion, the emphasis has often been on the baby’s health not the mom’s condition, notes ProPublica:

The American medical system has focused more on fetal and infant safety and survival than on the mother’s health and well-being.

(Sources: ProPublica, The Commonwealth Fund)

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