Feature

Health scare of the week: Death in childbirth

Data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the lifetime risk of maternal deaths is greater in the U.S. than in 40 other nations.

Giving birth in the U.S. is more hazardous than in other advanced nations—and the maternal death rate is getting worse. Two decades ago, there were 6.6 maternal deaths per 100,000 pregnancies; that rate has more than doubled, to 13.3 deaths per 100,000, and it is far worse for African-American women, who die at rate of 32.7 per 100,000. The data, collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, indicates that the lifetime risk of maternal deaths is greater in the U.S. than in 40 other nations, including most of the industrialized world. “This is a national disgrace and a call to action,” Elliott Main, chief of obstetrics at San Francisco’s Pacific Medical Center, tells CNN.com. In a new report, Amnesty International says the U.S. has the resources to achieve a mortality rate below four per 100,000, as in Great Britain. The report blames the relatively high rate of deaths in childbirth on the lack of health insurance for the poor, inadequate prenatal care, and a shortage of doctors in rural areas and inner cities.

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