There's no arguing that women in the U.S. are very lucky when it comes to health care during child birth. Even for women who do not have health insurance, there are provisions in place that cover prenatal care and child birth for pregnant women, so complications during child birth are generally low. But a new survey has found that while these complications are still relatively rare, their numbers are on the rise.
According to data gathered by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC,) the rate of serious complications such as heart attack, stroke, severe bleeding and kidney failure during or after childbirth roughly doubled for women in the U.S. between 1998 and 2009.
In the latest year studied, 2008-2009, there were 129 cases of severe complications for every 10,000 women who delivered in a hospital. This represents a 75 percent increase in cases from a decade earlier. In addition, birth complications that occurred after delivery but during a women's hospital stay also rose by 114 percent from the previous decade to 29 cases for every 10,000 women.
Why the increase? CDC researchers speculate that there are probably a number of reasons. For starters, many women are delaying child birth and having children when they are older, leading to a greater risk for complications. And women who already have a pre-existing condition such as heart disease or a heart defect and might not have been able to conceive decades ago, are now living longer and having babies.
Still, the CDC was quick to point out that they don't want women to be scared of child birth as the numbers are still incredibly low in this country. More than 4 million women give birth in the U.S. each year, and this study found about 590,000 cases of severe complications over 11 years.
Compare these numbers to those on Every Mother Counts website that find that up to 15 percent of all women who give birth around the world suffer life-threatening complications during childbirth, and it's fair to say that we are very lucky in this country indeed.