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Women in the United States dying during childbirth too often

Death rates during childbirth are down around the world, but a troubling fact is that they are not down in the United States. In fact, more U.S. women are dying today than in recent history, which is drawing major concerns from all states.

Between 1990 and 2015, the United Nations aimed to reduce global maternal mortality rates by 75 percent. Most nations were able to meet that goal. However, the United States has had a sudden uptick in the number of women dying during childbirth of around 27 percent between 2000 and 2014. In basic numbers, that means that there are now around 24 deaths per 100,000 live births, whereas there had been 19 per 100,000 in the past. Texas in particular is struggling; between 2010 and 2012, the maternal mortality rate doubled.

The World Health Organization has shown that around half of the deaths taking place in the United States are actually preventable. What's causing a rise in issues here that other countries just aren't seeing? One factor is obesity. More American women are overweight, which can lead to more complications during pregnancy. Record keeping could be another reason for the uptick, particularly if better detection methods are used to identify maternal deaths. This has been dismissed as the cause for this study.

Health care access issues may be a bigger concern. When access to medical care is inconsistent, it can mean that those without access have a greater risk of complications during pregnancy. When access to family planning services becomes restricted, as was the case in the Texas study, it limits women's ability to get the help they need.

In any case, when a woman dies during child birth, there's a risk that medical malpractice or negligence was a cause. For the families involved, a legal claim is one way to get the compensation needed to cover the cost of care and other financial losses.

Source: TIME, "Why U.S. Women Still Die During Childbirth," Alexandra Sifferlin, Sep. 27, 2016

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