Law Office of Robert A. Miller
Serving Oregon Medical Malpractice And Car Accident Clients Statewide
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Why is the maternal death rate so high?

If you are an Oregon mom-to-be, you probably are thrilled with the thought of giving birth to a healthy baby. You therefore take all the advice you can get from your doctor and other sources about all the things you should do during your pregnancy to assure that your baby indeed will be born healthy. But are you as concerned about your own health as much as you are about that of the child you are carrying?

Earlier this year, Oregon Public Broadcasting did a very disquieting report about the U.S. maternal death rate. The report, a joint effort by National Public Radio and ProPublica, found that 700-900 U.S. women die each year from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes. An additional 65,000 nearly die. This is possibly the worst record anywhere in the developed world.

As an American woman, you are over three times as likely to die during your maternal period than is a Canadian woman. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define your maternal period as the beginning of your pregnancy until one year after you deliver your baby.

Maternal death rate

From 1990 to 2015, the U.S. maternal death rate rose from about 17 per 100,000 live births to 26.4 such deaths. In contrast, the maternal death rate in 12 European countries and Canada all decreased and all were considerably below the U.S. rate. In the United Kingdom, for instance, the 2015 maternal death rate was 9.2 deaths per 100,000 live births. In Canada it was 7.3. In Finland, it was only 3.8.

Maternal death causes

Hemorrhage and cardiovascular and coronary conditions are the main causes of U.S. maternal death, accounting for 12.7 percent each. The other five main causes and their respective percentages are as follows:

  • Cardiomyopathy - 11.4 percent
  • Embolism - 9.5 percent
  • Infection - 9.5 percent
  • Mental health conditions - 8.9 percent
  • Preeclampsia and eclampsia - 7.6 percent

This is general information only. It is not intended to provide legal advice.

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