A new report out of California highlights an alarming trend in the U.S.: Maternal mortality rates have tripled in the state in the last 10 years.
Still a relatively rare event, up from 5.6 out of 100,000 women to 16.9 per 100,000 women, experts also say that the reasons that women die during or in the six weeks following childbirth are mostly preventable: hemorrhage, blood clots, and underlying heart disease.
So why does the U.S. rank so low in maternal health, behind over 40 other countries? That’s a big questions experts are trying to answer.
Some blame the rise in obesity, saying that obese mothers are higher risk of complications like gestational diabetes, or may already have chronic underlying conditions. But the more likely factor may be the high rate of c-sections currently being performed in the U.S.
“If the risks of a Cesarean birth are small, they’re magnified greatly when you add many more Cesarean births each year,” Dr. Elliot Main, chairman of the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative, told ABC News. “Not that many women actually choose to have an elective C-section at the beginning, but it’s easy to fall into a pattern of care that ends up resulting in a C-section.”
This finding might also explain the rising number of home births in the U.S.
Health officials are charged with not only finding the cause, but with implementing simple changes that would prevent at least half, say experts, of these deaths. Compression boots, for instance, can prevent blood clots in the legs.
For more on the California report, visit CaliforniaWatch.org.