Putting Mothers’ Lives on the Line: C-section trends, medical errors put women at risk

13 Oct

By Christi Morales, shades Magazine


Photo credit: M.ADA via Flickr

In Oakland, California, Maddy Oden sat waiting for the call that everything went well with the delivery of her grandchild.

There was no reason to think anything would go wrong, since her 32-year-old daughter, Tatia French, was in perfect health and had no complications during pregnancy. But when the call came through, what was supposed to be joyous news turned tragic.

“Ten hours after she was induced, she went into very severe hyperstimulation,” said Oden, describing French’s 2001 delivery. “They took her in for what literally was an emergency C-section at that point, and she had an amniotic fluid embolism – she died and the baby died.”

Sadly, the story of Oden’s daughter dying during labor will not be the last.

Even with advances in medicine, pregnancy- linked deaths are happening in the United States at a rate advocates say is alarming. In 2000, the U.S. Department of Health pledged to bring down the number of maternal deaths to no more than 3.3 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2010.

This goal has yet to be realized as the maternal mortality rate was still at 12.7 deaths per 100,000 births in 2007, the most recent figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s double the number from 20 years ago when the rate was at 6.6 deaths, according to Deadly Delivery – an Amnesty International report released this year.

“It’s a real shock to people in this country that when we spend the most
on healthcare and the most on maternal care of any country that we see the statistics that we do with women facing a greater risk of dying from childbirth-related complications in the U.S. than in 40 other countries,” said Nan Strauss, researcher and co-author of the Amnesty report.

The U.S. placed 50th for its maternal death rate, behind almost all industrialized countries and even developing nations like Serbia, according to figures from the United Nations.

The bottom line of the Amnesty report is that many deaths linked to childbirth can be prevented, but systemic problems exist that make decreasing maternal mortality a challenge – inconsistency when it comes to mitigating risks, variations in the standard of care, as well as external pressures on doctors.

Read more …

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