th-2Whether the reason is inadequate access to prenatal health care, poor functioning of our healthcare system, or pre-existing medical conditions in pregnant women, Kim Painter paints a grim picture on maternal mortality in the U.S.:

The United States is one of just eight countries in the world where deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth rose between 2003 and 2013, a new report says. That puts it in the company of countries such as Afghanistan, Belize and El Salvador.

While U.S. maternal mortality rates remain lower than those in many poor countries, they are much higher than those in developed countries ranging from the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia, says the report, published Friday in the Lancet by researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Seattle.


The report in The Lancet shows that in addition to Afghanistan, Belize, El Salvador, and the U.S., other countries with rising maternal mortality rates were Greece, Seychelles, South Sudan, and Guinea-Bissau.  Every other country saw maternal death rates during pregnancy and childbirth decline — most significantly and many dramatically.  Pittsburgh obstetrician (and Co-Director of Global Health at Magee-Womens Hospital) Daniel Lattanzi, M.D. sees the data as a “continued epidemic of unnecessary maternal deaths worldwide”:

Nearly 300,000 women die annually from pregnancy-related complications. Deaths occur in developing countries at 50 times the rate of developed countries primarily from lack of prenatal care, inadequate access to birth facilities and untrained birth attendants. The tragedy of a woman’s death in childbirth has tremendous impact on the remaining children as they have a two times greater chance of dying without their mothers.