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Why Are So Many Mothers Dying in Texas?

Why Are So Many Mothers Dying in Texas?
From TIME - January 5, 2018

The number of women who are dying during pregnancy, or soon after giving birth, has risen nationwide, and a new report shows an alarming 87% spike in deaths in Texas. As of 2015, the maternal mortality rate in Texas is 32.5 per 100,000 live births, and the increase accounts for around 50 to 60 additional deaths per year in Texas.

We think there is a very significant problem in Texas, says Marian MacDorman, a research professor at the Maryland Population Research Center at the University of Maryland, College Park, and the lead author of the new study, published in the journal Birth.

MacDorman and her colleagues published a 2016 study showing a more than 20% increase in maternal mortality rates across the U.S. Since maternal mortality rates are declining worldwide, the increase in the U.S. is cause for alarm. But the researchers also noticed a strange pattern in Texas, where there was an especially notable spike in cases: an 87% increase in maternal deaths in the state, when comparing data from 2006-2010 to 2011-2015.

The researchers say that the findings highlight two key problems: a true increase in the number of women dying during or after pregnancy, and a lack of quality data collection that makes understanding the trend more difficult. The researchers found that in Texas, the highest maternal mortality rates were among women over age 40. From 2011 to 2015, the maternal mortality rate for women over 40 was 27 times the rate for women under 40.

There are a few possible reasons for the high rate in deaths among women over 40. Women of that age group are often considered higher risk pregnancies, and more women are having babies at that age than in the past. However, the actual deaths among women over 40 likely arent as numerous as the findings suggest, MacDorman says, and the discrepancy may be because of a reporting problem.

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