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Why the U.S. is leading in maternal morbidity

More than 50,000 women each year suffer from severe maternal morbidity as a result of giving birth. At first glance, you might expect this to be an average statistic worldwide. Or perhaps you assume this figure represents the morbidity rate from childbirth in the third world.

In actuality, this number refers to women in the United States. American mothers die or sustain serious complications in childbirth far more than in any other developed country—three times as often as mothers in Canada and the UK.

When things go wrong during a birth, additional complications can arise. In the U.S., the most common complications are:

  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Pre-eclampsia (Pregnancy induced high blood pressure)
  • Heart conditions
  • Hemorrhaging

The rate of American women suffering from such complications is growing quickly—doubling between 1993 and 2014. And when these complications aren’t treated promptly and properly, the consequences—emergency hysterectomy, heart attack, septic shock and permanent brain damage, to name a few—are often life-threatening.

Why is childbirth inordinately more dangerous in the U.S.? Many experts point to obstetricians’ tendency to expect the best outcome from childbirth—and to deny indications that something has gone wrong. Researchers found a general reluctance among obstetricians to conduct additional tests when their patients presented symptoms of complications—sometimes weeks after childbirth. By delaying treatment, those complications became catastrophic.

Giving birth to a child should be one of the most joy-filled moments of your life. If you or a loved one has suffered serious injury or death due to a doctor’s negligence during or following childbirth, it’s worth consulting with a medical malpractice to understand your rights and recourse.

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