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Why are pregnancy and childbirth so dangerous in the U.S.?

The United States has one of the most advanced and well-developed medical systems in the world. People travel from other countries to pursue cutting-edge treatments here, and doctors trained in other countries want to work in well-supplied and well-funded American hospitals.


While the health care system in the United States offers incredible trauma care and treatment options for various illnesses, it fails in one of the most basic areas of care for humans. Specifically, the United States has an abysmal maternal death rate, as well as many women and newborns adversely affected by birth injuries.


What makes childbirth in the United States so dangerous?


The United States lags behind other developed nations in maternity care

When compared with 10 other developed countries that have excellent medical facilities, the United States finished dead last for how dangerous childbirth is for a mother. Although the United States only averages about 700 maternal deaths annually, experts estimate that about two-thirds of those deaths are preventable.


In other words, hundreds of women die every year in situations where better medical care would have meant that they survived. Hundreds of others suffer complications and injuries, as do many infants harmed by birth injuries. Families expecting to joyously greet a new member are instead left struggling to adjust to a child with debilitating needs or a mother unable to care for herself because of her condition.


What causes this dangerous trend?

In a broad sense, there is a correlation between wealth and maternal risk. Although there are incredible hospitals, there are also many working-class families in the United States barely making ends meet. Lack of access to prenatal care, lack of education and many other economically-based issues can impact a mother’s level of risk during pregnancy, labor and delivery.


There are other complicating factors as well, ranging from how the American medical system treats pregnancy and childbirth to how medical professionals may ignore the self-reported complaints of women during labor and delivery.


Even the wealthy, famous and powerful are clearly not safe from the risks that come with becoming a mother. Understanding how often such outcomes are preventable and reviewing the medical record related to your situation can be a first step toward asserting your rights after complications during pregnancy or birth.