Maternal mortality - how common is it?

Maternal mortality has risen in awareness this past year after a recent series of articles gained nationwide attention. At issues is the astonishingly high rate of maternal mortality in the U.S. compared with that of other developed countries.

Ongoing research is working on determining the causes of the preventable deaths, but it is clear that more data and additional study is needed so that hospitals and doctors can provide better care for mothers and families. 

What is generally agreed upon is that about 700-900 women in the U.S. die each year for reasons tied to pregnancy and that many of these deaths are preventable. While a lot of focus is placed on infant mortality rates, causes and patterns, not as much attention is paid to maternal mortality.

Women who are pregnant are at greater risk for medical complications. The reasons could be underlying medical conditions or pregnancy induced medical conditions. These conditions can present during pregnancy, during or after childbirth. Many of the medical issues experienced go undiagnosed until it is too late. 

Some common life-threatening issues include:

  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Preeclampsia
  • Hypertension (high-blood pressure)
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Infection

Misdiagnosis or improper treatment may give rise to a claim for medical malpractice, depending on the circumstances. Educating yourself about the signs and symptoms of potential problems is important so you can be proactive about your health and advocate for your care throughout your pregnancy and childbirth. With greater awareness, hopefully health care providers will give maternal health the attention it deserves. 

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