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Maternal Mortality Rates on the Rise

In the most recent government data available, there were 17.3 maternal deaths per 100,000 births in the United States. The maternal mortality ratio has been on the rise since 1987, where the ratio was 7.2 deaths per 100,000 births. This number is particularly alarming because there have been many medical advances since the 1980s (CDC). The CDC cites, “The use of computerized data linkages by the states, changes in the way causes of death are coded, and the addition of a pregnancy checkbox to the death certificate in many states have likely improved identification of pregnancy-related deaths over time.” This indicates that the use of incident reporting management software systems, such as the one provided by HealthDox, has contributed to the number of pregnancy related deaths actually being reported. 

 

These statistics raise another important question. How are other developed nations maternal mortality ratios’ as low as 3.8 (Finland) when the United States is reporting a maternal mortality ratio of 26.4 (Lancet 2016)? Furthermore, the United States is the only developed nation with an increasing mortality ratio rather than a decreasing mortality ratio. 

 

In the United States, there is a view that emphasis is not on the mother during child birth. Surveying a general consensus of new mothers, it was noted that the mothers felt more prepared to treat issues that may arise with the child, rather than complications that may arise in themselves. Even during the delivery process, the focus is on the infant, and issues with the mother are simply overlooked. It is part of the culture in hospitals to place their attention on infants therefore not noticing the complications occurring with the mothers (NPR and ProRepublica). But the few occurrences where doctors may not catch a hidden pregnancy complication does not account for the irrationally high number of maternal mortalities for the minority or impoverished mothers. It has been argued that this disparity is attributable to health care access. The United States is one of the only developed nation without some form of universal healthcare. In countries with the lowest reported maternal morality ratios, health services are offered to all mothers equally (Stearmer). Access to healthcare, greater family planning autonomy, and widespread knowledge of reproduction has allowed other nations to keep their maternal morality rates low. Maybe the United States can take note and learn to do the same. 

 

But there is still another question, how are other developed nations maternal mortality ratios’ as low as 3.8 (Finland) when the United States is reporting a maternal mortality ratio of 26.4 (Lancet 2016)? Additionally, the United States is the only developed nation where you find an increasing mortality ratio, as opposed to a decreasing mortality ratio. 

 

In the United States, the emphasis is not on the mother during child birth. Surveying the general consensus of new mothers, it was noted that they felt more prepared to identify issues that may arise with the child, but unaware and unprepared on how to care for issues that may arise in themselves. Even during the delivery process, the focus is on the infant, and issues with the mother are simply overlooked because it is part of the culture in hospitals to place their attention on infants therefore not noticing the complications occurring with the mothers (NPR and ProRepublica). But the few occurrences were doctors may not catch a hidden pregnancy complication does not account for the irrationally high number of deaths for mothers who are minorities or impoverished. This can be attributed to health care access. The United States is one of the only developed nation without some form of universal healthcare. In countries with the lowest reported maternal morality ratios, health services are offered to all mothers equally (Stearmer). This access to healthcare and greater autonomy and knowledge on family planning has allowed other nations to keep their maternal morality rates low. Maybe the United States can take note and learn to do the same. 

The Flu Epidemic

The United States is in the midst of the most widespread flu season the nation has seen. Having already taken as many as 37 lives this year, it is also one of the more dangerous flu strains ever. H3N2 has been the dominate strain this year, which accounts for the severity of the cases. The H3 strain of the flu is known to be one of the more severe strains, one which leads to other complications in the lungs (Time). Bacterial pneumonia is one side effect that commonly arises in patients with the flu. Left untreated, the results of this bacterial infection are deadly. Those most at risk are “children under the age of 5, and especially those younger than 2, as well as people who are 65 and older are more likely to develop complications from flu” (CBS). Additionally, the flu can exacerbate chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, which are widespread throughout the United States. Many people are hesitant to get the flu shot, but it is the most effective way to prevent the flu. 85% of flu related deaths in 2017 were linked to patients who did not get the vaccine. Many people do not think this is something that could happen to them, but the flu does not discriminate amongst its victims. For resources on where to get the flu vaccine in Arizona at little or no cost, follow the link below: 

https://www.whyimmunize.org/where-to-go-for-your-shots/

https://www.whyimmunize.org/where-to-go-for-your-shots/

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