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Maternal deaths on the rise


Pregnancy related death is on the rise. In an alarming way.

Defined as death while pregnant or death up to one year after giving birth, the fatalities have more than doubled in the last ten years. In a report released yesterday, a committee in California cited the increase in part to the increase in caesarean-section births.

The report comes from the California Pregnancy-Related and Pregnancy-Associated Mortality Review, a committee of experts charged with investigating the sharp increase in deaths. Deaths have risen from 8 per 100,000 births in 1999 to 14 per 100,000 in 2008. They note a change in safety of giving birth in California, especially for black and poor women.

One explanation was poor health, including obesity, going into a pregnancy. For the years 2002-2003, obesity was related to one in four deaths. Because of this, overweight pregnant women are now considered a major public health problem nationally.

They also found underlying cardiovascular disease as a leading factor, something which hadn’t been known before.

Caesarean-section deliveries now account for one-third of US births. That was a contributing factor in the deaths of 65 women from 2002-2003. Most were unplanned or emergency with other complications.

More than half the women who died were poor, Medi-Cal recipients. Furthermore, African American women were disproportionately represented at more than four times other racial groups.

They concluded women needed to enter pregnancy in better health and at a healthy weight. They need to reduce weight gain during pregnancy and the important of prenatal care, especially for poor women, cannot be underestimated. They also recommended particular attention to clotting disorders especially in women undergoing Ceasareans.

Source: LA Times


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