Maternal Complications During Childbirth Rising in the U.S.
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Maternal Complications During Childbirth Rising in the U.S.

mother holding bare pregnant bellyUnfortunately, childbirth is much more dangerous than it used to be, for both mothers and children. The number of serious complications during childbirth doubled between 1993 and 2014.

Shockingly, the number of sepsis cases — indicating infection in the mother — rose 75% in that period. So did the number of maternal complications during childbirth that required breathing tubes for the mother.

While some news accounts of the drastic rise in the number of childbirth complications focus on the profoundly important danger to the mother, it should also be remembered that these complications can result in injuries to the child.

High complication rates during childbirth

In the 4 million births every year, roughly 50,000 women suffer dangerous complications in childbirth, ranging from hemorrhages to injuries during emergency cesareans, or C-sections. In total, that’s approximately 135 births per day.

Perhaps most disturbingly, those figures are the highest in any industrialized nation.

Childbirth injuries can cause long-lasting and permanent conditions, such as irreversible brain damage, seizure disorders, cerebral palsy, and microcephaly. They can also cause developmental delays.

Non-emergency C-section numbers higher in the U.S.

Why are the figures so high, and why have they risen so dramatically?

There are multiple causes. One of the most sobering is the high number of C-sections currently performed. In the 1960s, just 5% of births took place via C-sections. Now, 33% do. This rate, too, is far higher than in other industrialized countries.

While emergency C-sections are sometimes necessary for the health of both mother and baby, they are also far too often done when not medically indicated. Damage can be done to the baby via forceps that causes permanent and irreversible harm.

Many observers feel that some hospitals lack appropriate training and protocols for what might go wrong in childbirth. Some hospitals do not have enough blood for transfusions. Some medical personnel are not trained to recognize common complications until they have progressed to the point where the life of both mother and child are at risk.

In some areas of the U.S., conditions that may contribute to complications, such as diabetes and hypertension, have grown rapidly over the past several decades.

Finally, economic inequalities may hamper the ability of some new mothers to have adequate access to prenatal care, which could have identified and prevented complications or conditions that lead to them.

Birth injury attorneys serving California

Sadly, thousands of newborns are injured as a result of the dramatic rise in complications during childbirth. If you or a loved one needs a highly skilled birth injury lawyer in southern California, we can help.

Ellis Injury Law has been assisting families affected by medical negligence for more than 20 years. Contact us today at 1-800-INJURED for a complimentary consultation with a Los Angeles birth injury lawyer today.

More Resources on Pregnancy and Maternal Complications:

  1. Ellison, Katherine and Nina Martin. “Nearly Dying in Childbirth: Why Preventable Complications Are Growing in U.S.” December 22, 2017. National Public Radio. https://www.npr.org/2017/12/22/572298802/nearly-dying-in-childbirth-why-preventable-complications-are-growing-in-u-s
  2. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pregnancy Complications. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/pregcomplications.htm