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US Ranks Far Behind Other Industrial Nations on Maternal Mortality

A report on maternal mortality released in mid October by UN public health experts revealed the US ranks 41 out of the 171 countries studied and trails far behind other industrialized nations. The study cites women’s lack of guaranteed access to health care as the primary reason for the high mortality rates among pregnant women. The report also finds a racial disparity in terms of maternal mortality in the US, with black women four times more likely to die during or shortly after pregnancy than white women. The UN reports that “80 percent of maternal deaths are caused by hemorrhage, sepsis, unsafe abortions, obstructed labor, and hypertensive diseases of pregnancy,” but most of the deaths are preventable when the women have access to adequate health care services. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced in its September report that although maternal mortality rates have decreased by 34 percent since 1990, the decline in the rate of pregnancy-related deaths is not on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal target for 2015. The UN Millennium Development Goal target aims to reduce the number of maternal deaths by 75 percent between 1990 and 2015. However, the current rate of decline for the maternal mortality ratio is only 2.3 percent annually, according to a WHO press release.

Sources:

Inter Press Service 11/22/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 9/16/10; World Health Organization Press Release 9/15/10; United Nations Fact Sheet 9/22/10

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