National Preeclampsia Prevention Month is observed in the U.S each year
More women in the U.S. die from complications related to pregnancy than in any other developed country. The U.S. ranks 47th in the world in maternal mortality. Every day, women in the U.S. die due to or suffer complications from complications during childbirth such as hypertensive disorders, preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome. Sixty percent of these cases are preventable. Our health care system focuses on babies but often ignores their mothers. Black women in the U.S are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related complication than are white women.
According to Dr David Reuter of Seattle Children’s Hospital:
"For most women, pregnancy is a time of joy and expectations fulfilled by the safe birth of a child into an expanded family. Beneath this surface of successful motherhood are dangers to a woman’s life and health paralleled by dangers to the unborn and newborn child. Some women carry identifiable risk factors into a pregnancy associated with preexisting and identifiable medical conditions. Others enter pregnancy with the appearance of health only to develop rapidly accelerating conditions such as hypertension or postpartum bleeding resulting in their death. Many, if not most, of these deaths are preventable. Prevention requires an understanding of the causes of women dying. Careful maternal mortality review identifies these and in doing so identifies local community, state-by-state, action points. Without maternal mortality review we do not have appropriate action points for local communities. Without community review we do not see these women and the loss they represent to their families and communities; We dishonor their loss of life and miss the opportunity to protect their sisters and daughters."
Now is the time to advocate for the establishment of local Maternal mortality review groups across the U.S. to allow for the identification of local actions which can prevent needless maternal death and disability. Women should share their personal stories and experiences with pregnancy complications with others including elected officials and health professionals.
The Arkansas Birthing Project advocates for these changes which will lead to improved outcome for pregnant women. across our country.