Moms in This State are Twice as Likely to Have Pregnancy-Related Deaths
byEricka SouterAug 19, 2016
Photograph by Twenty20
Pregnancy comes with a lot of fears and anxieties. Chief
among them: How much weight will I gain? Can I withstand a natural birth? Will I need an
episiotomy? In these modern times, however, few U.S. moms-to-be worry about
actually dying during pregnancy or labor.
In the early 20th century, there were close to 900 maternal
deaths per 100,000 births. With medical advances, that number was on a steady
decline for decades, and nearly eradicated by the 1990s.
However, in a
recent study, scientists were alarmed to find that the number of women dying
during pregnancy and childbirth has increased in the United States, and Texas has experienced the
biggest jump of all. From 2010 to 2014, the number of women dying of pregnancy
in the Lone Star State has almost doubled, with more than 600 deaths. Most
startling is that no one knows why, according to a study to be published in the
September issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
It’s certainly not for lack of trying to figure it out. In developed countries, the maternal death rate is 12
per 100,000 live births and Texas is frighteningly high above that. A state agency task force has
been researching the deaths for three years and national researchers have also
been looking into the problem, but neither has released any helpful findings.
That’s especially worrisome to Texas women who
are pregnant or planning to be. So far, the researchers are reviewing cases of
women who died of severe complications such as heart disease, infection, bleeding
and high blood pressure.
Experts note that the rise in deaths coincides with large
budget cuts in Texas, which may have affected health care and family budgets.
In fact, Sarah Wheat, a local spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Greater
Texas noted that many clinics were closed down, hampering much needed medical
and prenatal care for some of the states neediest women.
“Chances are they’re going to have a harder
time finding somewhere to go to get that first appointment,” she said. “They
may be delayed in getting that initial pregnancy test and then a prenatal
Still, officials haven’t announced an official link to the
deaths and budget cuts. Until findings are revealed, would-be mothers are left
in the dark, not knowing if a particular behavior is putting them at risk or
how to avoid it.