MATERNAL MORTALITY: High Rates Prompt New Initiative
Despite advances in health and medical technology, the United States maternal mortality rate has remained constant "for nearly two decades," USA Today reports. According to death certificate data complied by the National Center for Health Statistics, the maternal death rate is 8 per 100,000 deliveries, "and studies suggest that the true U.S. maternal mortality rate is actually 2.5 times higher." Studies also show that one in four pregnant women experience major complications such as high blood pressure, hemorrhaging or diabetes. Researchers say survivors of these conditions could provide "some answers" on "why pregnancy is still killing women."
Black And White
Black women are "more likely to die of a pregnancy-related complication than white women are, even though their chances of becoming sick are similar." According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the maternal death rate for U.S. black women "is 18.6 per 100,000 deliveries, more than triple the rate for white women," and the "gap widens even more in women 40 and older." The CDC contends that part of the "disparity" is due to the fact that "black women are less likely to receive adequate prenatal care." However, USA Today reports that "Hispanic women, who have similar patterns of prenatal care as black women, are only half as likely to die of a pregnancy- related complication."
USA Today reports that public health efforts "traditionally have focused far more on babies than on their mothers," which may in part explain why the country's maternal death rate "has remained stalled." Joyce Thompson, co-chair of "Safe Motherhood Initiative USA," a new campaign "led by the American College of Nurse Midwives that is trying to publicize the problem," said, "Infants are perceived by many in our society as being vulnerable. Women are not perceived that way. Little babies aren't supposed to die. Adults die."
Access To Care
"As many as half of all pregnant women were uninsured when they conceived," according to the CDC, "and up to 10% are still uninsured at delivery." Such numbers prompted Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Henry Hyde (R-IL) this month to introduce a bill that would "improve women's access to prenatal care." The Safe and Healthy Motherhood Act would allow states to draw funds from the Children's Health Insurance Program for prenatal care (Rubin, 5/19). The latest reproductive health news is available free online from the Kaiser Family Foundation's Daily Reproductive Health Report -- located at http://report.kff.org/repro/