By many measures, the United States has become the most dangerous industrialized country in which to give birth.
American women are more than twice as likely to die of pregnancy-related causes as British women, three times as likely as Canadians and six times as likely as Norwegians and Poles, according to 2015 data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. While other wealthy nations reduced maternal deaths in recent years, the U.S. maternal mortality rate jumped more than 25 percent from 2000 to 2014, researchers reported last August.
And for every expectant or new mother in the U.S. who dies, as many as 100 women come very close to dying, often with devastating long-term physical, emotional and economic effects. Maternal near deaths —from hemorrhages, strokes, aneurysms, clots, sepsis infections, cardiac arrest, organ failure and other life-threatening complications of pregnancy and childbirth— have been on the rise, and now exceed 65,000 a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The racial disparities are striking: African-American mothers are 3 to 4 times more likely to die or nearly die than whites.
ProPublica and NPR and Special Correspondent Renee Montagne are seeking your help in understanding why so many American women die and nearly die because of pregnancy and childbirth—and how the health care system can be improved to protect more mothers from harm.
Do you know someone who died or nearly died in pregnancy, childbirth, or within a year after delivery? Please tell us your story.
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