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Maternal death rate on the rise

It might be nerve-racking for pregnant women in New York to know that the maternal mortality rate in the United States has increased since 1990. In every 100 live births prior to the 1930s, almost one woman died from related complications. This rate had steadily declined by 1987 to fewer than eight maternal deaths out of 100,000 births. Between 1990 and 2013, however, 18.5 women out of 100,000 giving birth died.

From 2003 to 2013, the United States and seven other countries were the only ones to record increases in maternal death rates. This put American women at three times the risk of dying from complications than women in Germany, Japan, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom.

One cause for this could be that women are having children at an older age, making childbirth riskier. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that women aged 35 and older accounted for fewer than 15 percent of births from 2006 to 2010, but they made up more than 27 percent of childbirth deaths.

Some health experts believe that the cause for more deaths from pregnancy-related complications is the poorer health of women during pregnancy. They are increasingly likely to have chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, hypertension or obesity, all of which make childbirth more dangerous. African-American women are more likely to have limited health care access, be poor and become pregnant unexpectedly compared to their Caucasian counterparts. These factors explain why African-Americans are four times as likely to pass away from childbirth than Caucasians.

While maternal complications are a major concern, avoiding an injury or a death to the child is of equal importance. In some cases, the obstetrician, medical team or birthing facility are at fault for causing birth injuries such as cerebral palsy, jaundice or uterine rupture. A parent who has been affected by such an incident may want to speak with a medical malpractice attorney to determine the options that are available.

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