Dying during childbirth. While most of us believe such tragedies happen only in third world countries, data shows this is far from the case. More women are dying in childbirth in America, and the statistics are terrifying. The number of women dying per 100,000 births is 15.2, up from 7.2 deaths in 1987, according to Vox. This means that more women are dying because of pregnancy in America than in other developed countries, where pregnancy has become safer for women.
Black women are the most likely to die during pregnancy. Although the report shows that black women are three times more likely to die during pregnancy than white women, the numbers are likely be higher. From 2006 to 2010, black women were 12 times more likely to die from childbirth in New York City, according to a report released by the New York City Department of Health. Black women often have access issues – they are less likely to have health insurance, and thus less likely to receive prenatal care.
Why are these women dying? The answer to that is complicated. Reports indicate that the leading causes of death are changing. While hemorrhages (women bleeding to death) used to account for one-third of pregnancy-related deaths, they are now the cause of just 11 percent of deaths. Deaths caused by embolism and pregnancy-related hypertension have also decreased. Studies from the CDC’s Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System show that more women are dying from pre-existing chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases.
And even though more women are becoming pregnant later on in life, the number of women who died from pregnancy complications and were over 35 has actually gone down – from half of all deaths to 25 percent.
But Dr. Priya Agrawal told Romper in an exclusive interview that she believes it is important to focus on health complications such as embolism because they – and thus deaths from such complications — can be prevented.
We must not forget the continuing contribution of the age-old complications that are the same as those that kill women in Africa — postpartum hemorrhage, pre-eclampsia and embolism — continue to affect our women in America and need not do so as most of these deaths and related morbidity is preventable. There has been recent data from The Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses to show that hospitals in this country are not reliably or consistently prepared to deal with these emergencies.
Agrawal also mentioned that, while Merck for Mothers and other organizations such as The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have supported the development and scale of implementing safety protocols for emergencies in the labor room, it’s still not enough until every hospital has the ability to deliver quality standardized care to every woman. Studies indicate that one in three maternal deaths are preventable. If such measures can put an end to the upwards trend of dying during pregnancy, bringing safety measures to delivery rooms everywhere needs to happen as soon as possible.