Texas has highest pregnancy-related death rate in developed world, study says
The rate of Texas women who died from complications related to pregnancy doubled from 2010 to 2014, a new study has found. It may come as a surprise to many that the Long Star state has an estimated maternal mortality rate that is unmatched in any other state and the rest of the developed world.
From 2000 to the end of 2010, Texas’s estimated maternal mortality rate hovered between 17.7 and 18.6 per 100,000 births. But after 2010, that rate had leaped to 33 deaths per 100,000, and in 2014 it was 35.8. Between 2010 and 2014, more than 600 women died for reasons related to their pregnancies. No other state saw a comparable increase.
The state started studying the problem several years ago and discovered heart failure is the leading cause of death among new mothers in the year after child birth. Black women bear the greatest risk.
According to the Department of State Health Services, African-American mothers die in much greater numbers than women of other races, especially since 2010. Of the women who die from pregnancy-linked complications, nearly 30 percent are black.
In the wake of the University of Maryland-led study, reproductive health advocates are blaming the increase on Republican-led budget cuts that decimated the ranks of Texas’s reproductive healthcare clinics. In 2011, just as the spike began, the Texas state legislature cut $73.6m from the state’s family planning budget of $111.5m. The two-thirds cut forced more than 80 family planning clinics to shut down across the state. The remaining clinics managed to provide services – such as low-cost or free birth control, cancer screenings and well-woman exams – to only half as many women as before.
Experts suggest prenatal care and warn women not to skip follow-up appointments after giving birth.
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