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Pregnancy complications lead to more maternal deaths

The maternal mortality rate has increased in the United States during the last 20 years, according to a new report that looked at the maternal complication and death rate around the world. The maternal mortality rate in the U.S. has increased to 18.5 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births. This is an increase from the 12.4 maternal deaths reported back in 1990. 

The increase in deaths from pregnancy-related complications is troubling and many medical professionals are asking why fatalities have increased. The report cited a few different reasons for the increase, including lack of health insurance and access to medical care and better reporting compared to the past. They also said women are getting pregnant at an older age or with prior health conditions that can complicate pregnancy.

The report noted several different types of complications that have contributed to the increase in fatalities along with a few complications that have declined. Pregnant women are at risk for complications and injuries, even after they have given birth. However, some of the most deadly complications have decreased. Maternal deaths caused by sepsis, hemorrhage, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage and abortion have all declined in the last 20 years.

Despite this good news, more pregnant women are dying from heart failure, embolism and complications from anesthesia than before. The report also noted that health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, kidney problems and obesity are also contributing to the higher maternal death rate.

Many pregnancy complications are preventable, which is why the report that maternal deaths have increased is so troubling. OB-GYNs and other medical professionals are supposed to monitor their pregnant patients for any complications or risks that could put their lives at risk. When a patient isn't monitored as close as she should be, complications that could have been prevented may start and put the soon-to-be mother's life at risk.

Pregnant patients should be aware of their risks for complications. Patients who think they may have suffered a complication due to their provider's negligence may be able to pursue legal action against their doctor.  

Source: The Huffington Post, "The U.S. Is The Only Developed Nation With A Rising Maternal Mortality Rate," Anna Almendrala, May 19, 2014

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