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Maternal Mortality Jumps in U.S., Denmark, Austria, Canada and Norway

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Maternal mortality is a major concern and one excellent way of measuring the quality of health care in a country (along with infant mortality and longevity.) The U.S doesn't stack up very well in any of the three categories for the world's only superpower or even just a first world country.

The Women Deliver movement will be meeting in Washington D.C. this June to discuss the meager gains of 20-year Safe Motherhood movement and what more can be done.

There is some sobering information contained in tomorrow's The Lancet. Issue of 8 May 2010 (http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/issue/vol375no9726/PIIS0140-6736(10)X6125-6) reports that there has been some progress in reducing the maternal mortality rate after 20 years of the Safe Motherhood movement, but that some surprising countries, including the U.S. and Canada have increasing death rates - The Lancet cautions that this might be due to better reporting but it is still a serious situation when a U.S. woman has a lower chance of childbirth death in Greece, Grenada, Kuwait, or even Croatia.

"Six countries account for over half of maternal deaths (India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo). Afghanistan has the highest maternal mortality ratio; Italy has the lowest. Over time, maternal mortality has concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa. Meanwhile, HIV has been a major cause of paralysis. Without HIV, annual maternal deaths would have been 281 500 in 2008. Maternal mortality has the strongest associations with fertility and GDP. And finally, several high-income countries, partly though maybe not wholly through better reporting, show an increase in maternal mortality ratios (notably the USA, Denmark, Austria, Canada, and Norway)."

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_mat_mor-health-maternal-mortality

The death rate isn't actually high in the U.S., being 8 per 100,000 births but this is 800% higher than the 1 per 100,000 in both Grenada and Greece.

Maternal Mortality refers to the number of women who die due to childbirth.

Child mortality news (the number of infant deaths under one year old who were born alive) is also bad news for the U.S. which is reported to be 45th in the world, worse than that in Cuba. This ranking changes but is about 6.3 per 1,000 live births

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2091rank.html

Other world data is found at
http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_inf_mor_rat-health-infant-mortality-rate although the U.S. isn't in that list, it would come in between Italy and the Faroe Islands.

And, by the way, the U.S. isn't even in the top 10 countries with the highest life expectancy.

http://longevity.about.com/od/researchandmedicine/p/lifeexpectancy.htm

In fact, if you live in Macau you will probably live 4 years longer than if you live in the U.S.

Even the U.K. with its much criticized health care system ranks above the U.S. as does Canada. Perhaps waiting for some health care is actually good for you?

People who keep yelling about the U.S. having the best health care system in the world obviously have access to top government healthcare such as Bethesda or can't read statistics. The alternative is too awful to contemplate - they realize the U.S. doesn't have a very good health care system for the world's only superpower and they are simply lying for personal or political benefit.

Perhaps things will begin to improve in health care but then "drill-baby-drill" hasn't turned out too well for the Gulf coast and in a few months I bet we'll be hearing that mindless chant again.

John McCormick is a reporter, /science/medical columnist and finance and social commentator, with 17,000+ bylined stories. Contact John through NewsBlaze.

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