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Severe Birth Complications on the Rise in the U.S., Study Shows

Severe Birth Complications on the Rise in the U.S., Study Shows

October 25, 2012 — Although severe complications from childbirth are relatively rare in the U.S., they have become more common, according to a new CDC study, Reuters reports.

The study, which assessed hospital discharge records from 1998 through 2009, found that the rate of serious complications like heart attack, stroke, severe bleeding and kidney failure during or after childbirth nearly doubled during that time period.

The number of women with severe complications rose by 75% during the study period, reaching 129 cases per 10,000 women who gave birth in hospitals in 2008 and 2009. Additionally, the number of complications during post-delivery hospital stays increased by 114%, totaling 29 cases per 10,000 women in 2008 and 2009.

William Callaghan, lead author of the study, said the research did not assess reasons for the increase. However, he noted that more women are giving birth at older ages, are obese or have certain health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes that could put them at risk for complications.

Minority Women Face Greater Risk

A separate CDC study found that between 1993 and 2006, minority women accounted for 41% of all births in the U.S., but 62% of all pregnancy-related deaths.

The study showed that black women's maternal mortality rate was four times the rate for white women, with 32 to 35 maternal deaths per 100,000 births among black women (Norton, Reuters, 10/23).