Here’s troubling news: The United States has got the worst maternal death rate of any developed nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And we’re one of the only industrialized countries in which the number of deaths are on the rise.
According to the CDC, about 700 U.S. women die every year as a result of high-risk pregnancy or delivery complications, while up to 50,000 women nearly die due to severe complications such as heart attacks or hemorrhages during pregnancy or delivery. (That’s despite the fact that, according to 2017 research published in The Lancet, the United States spends more money on healthcare than any other country does—around $9,237 a person each year.)
Even scarier: According to the World Health Organization, about half of maternal deaths in the U.S. are preventable, so long as there’s increased awareness and pregnant women can get access to quality care. And the situation’s just getting worse: the latest stats show pregnancy-related deaths jumped by almost 27 percent from 2000 to 2014, according to a report published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, despite the fact that our infant mortality rate is at an all-time low, having declined by 15 percent over the past decade, according to the CDC.
“We have a healthcare structure where we focus so much on a safe birth and the health of the baby, that we’ve lost sight of the health of the mother,” says study author Eugene Declercq, Ph.D., a professor of community health sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health. Here’s what’s going on behind the scenes: