The Issues

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Rising Maternal Mortality and Poor Health Outcomes

The rate of Mothers dying in childbirth or due to pregnancy related causes continues to climb in the U.S., unlike all other industrialized countries.

WHY?

Poor access to healthcare, discrimination, lack of information about family planning options, and healthcare provider shortage, among others.

Due to these barriers, the U.S. has the highest maternal mortality out of every industrialized country.

Maternal death for American Indian/Alaskan Native and non-Hispanic Black women is 3 to 4 times more likely to happen compared to White women.

Over 50% of maternal deaths are considered preventable


Perinatal Depression

Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders can appear during pregnancy, or days or even months after childbirth, and does not usually resolve without treatment.

It is estimated that 15-21% of pregnant women experience moderate to severe symptoms of depression or anxiety. Without appropriate intervention, poor maternal mental health can have long term and adverse implications for mother, child and family.

We need legislation and programs to improve recognition, support, and treatment of perinatal and postpartum depression including comprehensive mental health services.

 

Health Care Inequity and Disparities

Racial and ethnic minorities suffer a disproportionately high burden of diseases and experience higher rates of mortality. Approximately 83,000 preventable deaths occur each year as a result of racial and ethnic health disparities, including high infant mortality rates. Over the lasts THIRTY years, racial and ethnic minority women, particularly African-American and Hispanic/Latino/Latino women, continue to experience worse health outcomes when compared to non-Hispanic/Latino white women.

 

Premature Birth


March of Dimes Premature Birth National Report Card

In 2015, 1 in 10 babies was born too early or premature in the U.S.

From 2007 to 2014 the rates were on a decline, but recently there has been a rise in premature births across the nation.

WHY?

A combination of factors influence rates of prematurity. Many of the same reasons such as poor access to care, inadequate prenatal care, maternal co-morbidities, and racism are responsible for these outcomes.

Geography plays a significant role, with southern states suffering one of the highest rates of premature births.

Maternity and Family Leave Policies

Of 186 countries, 96% provide some pay to women during maternity leave.

The United States is the only high-income country, and one of only eight countries in the world, that does not mandate paid leave for mothers of newborns.

Research shows that paid leave increases the likelihood that:

workers will return to work after childbirth

improve employee morale

has no or positive effects on workplace productivity

reduces costs to employers through improved employee retention

improves family incomes.

Women of color and minority groups have an even greater barrier in obtaining any leave at all, whether it is paid or not.


Lack of Access to Healthcare

There are major pockets of the US where individuals do not have access to needed maternity care services and/or do not have either Commercial or Medicaid insurance coverage.

WHY?

There is a maternity care provider shortage.

High quality maternity care is essential for promoting maternal health and positive birth outcomes. Maternal mortality rates are three to four times higher for women who do not receive prenatal care, while access to early prenatal care has been shown to reduce rates of low birthweight. Poor pregnancy outcomes can lead to a lifetime of health consequences for both mother and infant. For that reason, it is critically important that every opportunity be taken to extend insurance coverage to pregnant women. Ensuring access to prenatal care and the array of services provided is one of the best ways to promote healthy pregnancies and healthy babies.

The US does not mandate UNIVERSAL services for maternity care for all childbearing age women.

Shortages in rural areas are even greater and some families travel over 30 miles to reach a physician or midwife. Lack of access to quality care leads to poor outcomes like premature births, maternal and infant mortality, and racial disparities in care.

References

  1. Amnesty International. Deadly Delivery the Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA: One Year Update. http://www.amnestyusa.org/sites/default/files/deadlydeliveryoneyear.pdf
  2. CDC Maternal and Infant Health. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/pmss.html.
  3. Postpartum Support International. http://www.postpartum.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/PSI-PMD-FACT-SHEET-2015.pdf.
  4. CDC Premature Birth. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/pretermbirth.htm
  5. March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card. http://www.marchofdimes.org/mission/prematurity-reportcard.aspx
  6. Institute for Women’s Policy Research. https://iwpr.org/publications/paid-parental-leave-in-the-united-states-what-the-data-tell-us-about-access-usage-and-economic-and-health-benefits/
  7. Bureau of Labor Statistics. https://www.bls.gov/OES/current/oes291161.htm
  8. Bureau of Labor Statistics. https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291064.htm
  9. Think Progress. https://thinkprogress.org/how-the-zero-weeks-of-paid-maternity-leave-in-the-u-s-compare-globally-a8ba7f36f85b#.ocxvqtpvt
  10. ASTHO Issue Brief. http://www.astho.org/Programs/Health-Equity/Maternal-and-Infant-Disparities-Issue-Brief/
  11. CDC: Health United States 2015: With Special Feature on Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus15.pdf