The Childbirth Connection (formerly Maternity Center Association) released the Maternity Quality Matters: Latest US Maternity Care Statistics in December. This fact sheet updates statistics in the Evidence-Based Maternity Care: What It Is and What It Can Achieve. Both the fact sheet and the Evidence-Based Maternity Care report are available online in PDF format.
Some highlights from the fact sheet are that there were more than 4.3 million births in the US during 2007. Six of the 10 most common hospital procedures in 2007 were maternity-related including cesarean section (ranked #3, an 85% increase), circumcision (ranked #7), fetal heart monitoring (#8) and artificial rupture of membranes to assist delivery (#10).
2007 marked the 11th straight year of increase for cesarean sections to an amazing 31.8%. Utah had the lowest cesarean rate of 22% and New Jersey the highest with 38.3% ~ although Puerto Rico had a cesarean rate of 49.2%.
Preterm births generally rose to 12.8% in 2006, but dropped to 12.7% in 2007 with Vermont having the lowest rate of 9.2% and Mississippi a rate of 18.3% (Puerto Rico = 19.4%).
What is the take-away from these statistics? Before we can ever make a statement that our technology is improving and should be used, we must also look at our maternal child/health outcomes. In November 2009, the March of Dimes noted that the US received a “D” for the Preterm Birth Rate .
The US has ranked as low as 41st in the world for maternal mortality with 1 in 4,800 women dying from pregnancy complications (October 2007).
The U.S. infant mortality rate of 6.78 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2004, compared unfavorably with the lowest rates of 3.5 per 1,000 reported in Scandinavian and East Asian countries. Overall, 22 countries had infant mortality rates below 5.0 in 2004.
Education should be the take-away. Education of parents ~ an increase in prenatal education as stated in the Healthy People 2010/2020 initiative. Education of care providers about evidence-based care.
Education will change our statistics…or as Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”