By: Donna Devita
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This past month, a Connecticut mom gave birth to her third child. Days later, the mom was rushed to Hartford Hospital where she tragically died from sepsis, leaving behind her husband, 5-year-old, 3-year-old, and newborn baby only days old.
Maternal Deaths are Skyrocketing in the U.S.
Devastating events such as these are skyrocketing all over the country. Compared to the rest of the developed world, the United States has one of the worst rates of maternal deaths: 20.7 deaths per 100,000 live births so far in 2018, according to America’s Health Rankings. In 2017, NPR compared the United States to several other developed countries around the world, listing their rate of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births:
- U.S (20.7)
- U.K (9.2)
- Portugal (9)
- Germany (9)
- France (7.8)
- Canda (7.3)
- Netherlands (6.7)
- Spain (5.6)
- Australia (5.5)
- Ireland (4.7)
- Sweden (4.4)
- Italy (4.2)
- Denmark (4.2)
- Finland (3.8)
In another report released by the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) 2,726 pregnancy-related deaths were reported between 2011-2014, and sadly most of these deaths could have been prevented.
Conditions Causing Maternal Deaths
Childbirth is supposed to be one of the most exciting and joyful moments in a family’s life. So, why are so many missing out on this opportunity because of premature maternal deaths? The CDC lists these conditions as the most common reasons for maternal fatalities in the United States between 2011 to 2014:
- Cardiovascular disease (15.2%)
- Non-cardiovascular diseases (14.7%)
- Infection or sepsis (12.8%)
- Hemorrhage (11.5%)
- Cardiomyopathy (10.3%)
- Thrombotic pulmonary embolism (9.1%)
- Cerebrovascular accidents (7.4%)
- Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (6.8%)
- Amniotic fluid embolism (5.5%)
- Anesthesia complications (0.3%)
The risk of having a heart attack during pregnancy, birth, or within two months after birth is continuing to rise in American women, making heart disease the leading cause of pregnancy-related death, according to an article published by Science Daily. Detecting heart disease in women has been a growing issue in our country for years and is now causing a number of families to go motherless unnecessarily.
Maternal Death by Race
When looking at the rates of maternal deaths by race and ethnicity, the statistics are even more concerning. Based again off of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, American’s Health Rankings breaks down the percentages of maternal deaths so far in 2018 into five race/ethnicity categories:
- Hispanic (12.2)
- Black (47.2)
- Asian/Pacific Island (11.6)
- White (18.1)
- AIAN (38.8)
Studies show a racial divide regarding maternal mortality rates has been an issue for decades. One of the suspected causes for the maternal death rates doubling in black mothers is due to higher rates of obesity and hypertension in this population, two conditions leading to heart disease which is the number one killer of pregnant women and mothers in the CDC’s findings.
How Are CT Mothers Doing?
A recent article released by Connecticut Health I-Team shows Connecticut mothers are doing slightly better than the national average, but still not impressive compared to other countries. America’s Health Rankings shows Connecticut has 13.2 deaths per 100,000 live births.
What else do we know about Connecticut mothers…not much. Unfortunately, Connecticut statistics on maternal mortality rates are pretty sparse. The Health I-Team article highlights a huge deficit in how maternal death statistics are being monitored. Not only are the causes of death not accurately being kept track of to help reduce future fatalities, but lack of funding for programs monitoring this type of data collection and analysis are causing significant holes in yearly reports. Without proper data, healthcare practices cannot be reformed to address what is causing the increase in maternal deaths, and Connecticut is not the only state falling behind in this task.
American Mothers Deserve Better
Too many families are bringing home their bundles of joy among the tragedy of losing a mother. In a time where our technology is better than it’s ever been, these rates of deaths are inexcusable. The American Public Health Association (APHA) defines maternal mortality as a significant human rights issue. Mothers’ rights nationwide are being violated by allowing a rise in preventable maternal deaths to continue.
APHA advocates strongly for a woman’s right to quality health care and recommends that federal, state, and local agencies follow these action steps to help reduce maternal mortality rates across the country:
- Fund and support the CDC’s recommendations for pregnancy-related mortality review boards.
- Encourage the review boards to use multiple sources for collecting data and expand the definition of pregnancy-related maternal deaths when they identify cases.
- Encourage states to adopt better ways of keeping track of maternal deaths, including adding options onto death certificates.
- Encourage the state health departments to keep better electronic records in order to make instant connections between deaths related to births.
- Support more programs for women to gain access to appropriate and quality healthcare, despite barriers.
- Include maternal health outcomes in reports on pregnancy outcomes, including complications and fatalities.
- Revise standards of practice when it comes to maternity care to include best available evidence and health recommendations.
- Increase funding for data collection, review, research, analysis and education.
- Create legislation that would reduce maternal deaths while improving maternal health.
Standing Up For CT Mothers
Misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, and medical negligence can all contribute to preventable maternal deaths. If you or a loved one experienced an unnecessary maternal death, our team of medical malpractice attorneys is here to seek justice for your catastrophic loss by exploring your options for financial compensation. Contact us today for a free case evaluation to see how Jacobs & Wallace can help you in your time of extreme need.