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Why is death during childbirth growing more common?

The maternal mortality rate is a serious issue in the United States. While most other countries see the rate at which mothers pass away during childbirth continuing to fall, the United States has been moving in the opposite direction. Since 2000, the rate has actually gone up.

Why, in a country with world-class health care facilities, is it still so dangerous to have children?

One reason, some experts claim, is just that we are better at detecting deaths that are related to pregnancy. As detection improves, even if the statistics stayed the same, they would appear to go up since more connections would be made.

By no means does that explain it all, though. Another part of the reason is obesity. America has an obesity epidemic, along with heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. All of these things make it more likely that the body will not be able to withstand the stress of childbirth.

Interestingly, and for reasons that are not entirely clear, race also seems to play a role. African American woman are, according to some studies, three times as likely to pass away. Issues such as preeclampsia and hemorrhage are more often fatal for African American mothers, even though they are nearly just as common in white mothers.

The risk, though often overlooked in a modern society where people trust medical professionals, is very real. It is important for expecting mothers to understand this risk. It is also important for family members to know all of their legal rights when a loved one passes away, especially if medical malpractice and mistakes are involved.

Source: Time, "Why U.S. Women Still Die During Childbirth," Alexandra Sifferlin, accessed April 25, 2018

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