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Friday, December 18, 2015

Horrible news about US maternal death rates rising

It's an internatioal embarassment for the US to see women's death rates rising

Budget cuts, driven mostly by Republicans, to reduce women's health programs, and reductions to Medicaid coverage to pay for preventive care for teenage, and child bearing age women, may correlate with the growing U.S. maternal death rates, in my opinion. 

It's the proverb about "pay now or pay later". It seems as though short term budget cuts to programs for the low income and poor to receive healthcare will ultimately risk putting American women's lives at risk. "It's intersting that we can put a man in space, but we can't save a woman from dying in chidbirth," says Katja Iversen, CEO of the global advocacy group Women Deliever.  Countries that provide universal access to health care have the lowest maternal mortality rates.

In fact, Maternal deaths related to childbirth in the United States are nearly at the highest rate in a quarter century reports The Washington Post.

This regressive health measure indicates a deteriorating ability for mothers to access health care, when it's the cheapest to administer. Preventive health care for women and children is cheap and effective at preventing death and injuries related to preventable diseases. Yet, in the US the rates of maternal deaths are rising!

Nevertheless, the American news media hasn't reported on the deteriorating decline, especially because the US is now compared to Korea and Afghanistan with having the worst death rates!
There is no excuse for this except for a serious lack of prioritization of health dollars for preventive care.

Reported in The Week

Although, around the world, maternal mortality rates are actually falling dramatically, this is not the case in the United States.  

New research conducted by the U.N.'s World Health Organizaation (WHO) has found that the number of women in the U.S. dying from pregnancy-related complications is actually on the rise.  

In developed nations, women's risk of dying as a result of pregnancy and childbirth has fallen 48 percent since 1990, to 12 women per 100,000 live births, The Washington Post reports.  

But death rates in the U.S. increased from 12 to 14 women per 100,000 live births over that same period---making our nation's rate twice as high as Canada's and more than four times higher than Greece's and Iceland's. 

Incredulously, although the U.S. is one of the word's wealthiest countries, and spends far more on health care than other developed antions, we're just one of 13 countries---including North Korea and Aghanistan---where maternal mortality rates are rising. Why? Obesity and older maternal ages at birth may play a role, but the reality is, the biggest problem is that the poor in many states still, often, do not have access to quality health care.  


A worrisome trend, undetected
The number of women who die due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth demands an explanation because, w
orldwide, the WHOstudy estimated that 293,000 women died of pregnancy-related causes in 2013, down from 376,000 in 1990.

Certainly, childbirth becomes more dangerous when a woman is not healthy before she becomes pregnant, and a growing body of research suggests that poor health prior to pregnancy could be a contributing factor to the high U.S. death toll. Studies have indicated that an increasing number of pregnant women in the U.S. have health conditions that could boost the risk of problematic complications including chronic health disease, hypertension and diabetes. More than half of the women in the U.S. who become pregnant are above a healthy weight. Women who are 35 or older are also at increased risk of complications during pregnancy. Poor prenatal care and barriers to accessing health care could be killing more women, too. (By the way, weight maintenance is a very inexpensive health intervention with proven outcomes.)

Inadequate postnatal care may be another driver of mortality in women—one that that doesn’t show up in the official U.S. data analysis by the National Center for Health Statistics because the deaths tend to occur more than 43 days after pregnancy ends. “We are good at responding to life-threatening crises that may have killed women a generation ago,” Kassebaum observes. But, he notes, poor postnatal care in women who were significantly weakened by childbirth complications may be killing more women.

Quality follow up postnatal care isn't expensive and neither is it high tech. Therefore, it makes no sense for American women to experience a rise in maternal deaths, when the cure for this trend is inexpensive and positive outcomes are proven.  Healthy women are vital care giver for several generations of families - they raise families while caring for their own parents and their grandchildren. It's essential for America to keep women healthy!  

Republicans are responsible for the cuts to primary health care programs to improve women's health. Unfortunately, the Republicans subscribe to an anti-science position on nearly everthing where outcomes contradict their narrative about cutting taxes, eliminating social programs like "welfare" and the dangers of global warming.  

Therefore, it's time for the news media to put the World Health Organization (WHO) report with the dismal data from the U.S., in the forefront and demand answers to the problem, before it gets even worse. America can't afford to loose women to preventable morbitities (and that includes domestic violence).

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