A new study using data from California may be both unsettling and shocking. According to a 2010-2012 study of postpartum deaths, almost 20% of new mothers who die within a year of giving birth do so via suicide or drug overdose.
The study, which was undertaken at Michigan State University, looked at over one million new mother’s medical records. The study is part of a national effort to understand why there is a rising death rate among new mothers. While the postpartum death rate in California is still below average for the rest of the nation, the results of the study bring up a whole new set of questions about what’s lacking when it comes to maternal care.
Drug overdoses were the second most common cause of death for new mothers within a year of giving birth. Suicide was the seventh most common. In both cases, nearly 75% of the women who ultimately died had sought emergency care at least once for their problems following the birth of their child. The data suggests that there are some systemic failures in the medical system when it comes to addressing a new mother’s mental health.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a serious mental health issue that affects one out of every seven women and may be contributing factor to things like drug addiction and suicide in new mothers — yet many doctors fail to screen new mothers for these symptoms or dismiss their complaints as the insignificant consequences of hormonal shifts. If your loved one died from suicide or a drug overdose after giving birth despite attempts to obtain medical treatment, consider finding out more about your legal options.