Monday, May 15, 2017
NPR (May 12, 2017): Focus on Infants During Childbirth Leaves Moms in Danger, by Nina Martin & Renee Montagne:
NPR and ProPublica profile Lauren Bloomstien, a 33 neonatal nurse who died in childbirth. Every year in the U.S., 700-900 women die from pregnancy or childbirth related causes. The U.S. maternal mortality rate is three times that of Canada and six times that of Scandinavia. In recent years, Great Britain has seen a dramatic decline in maternal mortality, but maternal deaths in the U.S. increased from 2000 to 2014, and according the CDC Foundation, almost 60% of those deaths are preventable.
Maternal mortality rates are significantly higher among African-Americans, low-income women and women who live in rural areas, but according to NPR and ProPublica, maternal mortality affects women of all races, ethnicities and income levels.
[T]he worsening U.S. maternal mortality numbers contrast sharply with the impressive progress in saving babies' lives. Infant mortality has fallen to its lowest point in history, the CDC reports, reflecting 50 years of efforts by the public health community to prevent birth defects, reduce preterm birth, and improve outcomes for very premature infants. The number of babies who die annually in the U.S. — about 23,000 in 2014 — still greatly exceeds the number of expectant and new mothers who die, but the ratio is narrowing.
The divergent trends for mothers and babies highlight a theme that has emerged repeatedly in ProPublica's and NPR's reporting. In recent decades, under the assumption that it had conquered maternal mortality, the American medical system has focused more on fetal and infant safety and survival than on the mother's health and wellbeing.
In the U.K. maternal deaths are treated as system failures, and a committee of experts investigates every death from pregnancy or childbirth complications. In the U.S. maternal mortality reviews are left to the states. Thirty-one states have maternal mortality review process. A federal bill Preventing Maternal Deaths Act of 2017 would authorize federal funding for states to establish or improve review processes.