Patt Morrison for May 24, 2010

Maternal mortality on the rise

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Alexandra Beier/Getty Images

The mortality rate for pregnant women is up in the United States

The rising rate of maternal mortality, which has nearly doubled in the last decade, has experts scratching their heads. Some speculate that an increase in cesarean sections may be contributing or that women who are waiting until they are in their 30’s or 40’s to have a child is increasing the risk for complications. The human rights organization Amnesty International is pushing the federal government to overhaul maternal health care and create an Office of Maternal Health within the Department of Health and Human Services to focus more attention on the issue. The U.S. spends more per birth than any other industrialized nation, but has a higher rate of maternal mortality than 40 other countries including Croatia. The U.S.’s rate of maternal mortality is twice as high as Canada and much of Western Europe. California’s rate tripled between 1996 and 2006. Is enough being done to combat the problem? Patt finds out.

Guests:

Nan Strauss, researcher at Amnesty International. She is the co-author of their “Deadly Delivery” report on maternal mortality

Dr. Elliott Main, chief of obstetrics at Sutter Health. He is director of California’s ongoing review of maternal mortality rates.


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