Dying in childbirth on rise in U.S.

By Brett Milano ~ The Harvard Gazette

Harvard panel discusses why maternal mortality has doubled, and what can be done about it

Deaths during childbirth have declined sharply in most parts of the world — but not in the United States. Maternal mortality doubled in this country between 2000 and 2014, and it disproportionately affects African-American women, placing them at three to four times greater risk.

A panel at the Harvard T.H. Chan School on Monday offered some alarming statistics, but also a number of solutions, ranging from improving hospital facilities to addressing systemic racism. The panel, “Deaths from Pregnancy and Childbirth: Why Are More U.S. Mothers Dying and What Can Be Done,” was moderated by WGBH news anchor Tina Martin, and streamed live on YouTube and Facebook.

An introductory video produced by ProPublica and NPR stated that between 700 and 900 women died from pregnancy-related causes in the U.S. in 2016, and up to 60 percent of those deaths were preventable. There has been no improvement in the three years since, said Wanda Barfield, a rear admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service and the director of reproductive health for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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