The Grapevine

Why Did The Maternal Mortality Rate Double In Texas?

A shocking new report from the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology has shown that the U.S. maternal mortality rate increased significantly between 2000 and 2014 — despite the rest of the world’s success in reducing the number of women dying from pregnancy complications.

What’s even more surprising? Texas, America’s second-largest state, has experienced a harrowing doubling of maternal mortality rates in just a two-year period. The report stated that these numbers are hard to explain “in the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval,” according to The Guardian.

Pregnancy Texas is one of the most dangerous places in the developed world to be pregnant, but why? Photo courtesy of Pexels

“There is a need to redouble efforts to prevent maternal deaths and improve maternity care for the 4 million U.S. women giving birth each year,” the study authors said.

In 2012, 148 women in Texas died from pregnancy complications, up significantly from 72 deaths two years before. Between 2000 and 2010 the state’s maternal mortality numbers only increased modestly.

There is one possible reason for the Lone Star State’s staggering rates; its Republican-led state legislature. In 2011, just before the rise in maternal mortality, Texas slashed funding to Planned Parenthood and decimated its reproductive healthcare clinics. At the time, legislators cut the state's family-planning budget from $111.5 million to $37.9 million.

"We're really seeing this is a serious problem with maternal mortality," Dr. Daniel Grossman — an OB-GYN who studies the effects of recent reproductive health legislation in Texas with the state’s Policy Evaluation Project at the University of Texas at Austin   — told the Dallas Morning News. "It really seems like that's where the state officials should be focusing on trying to improve health and safety."

Some health experts have complained that the state has been slow to respond to the serious problem.

Additionally, the report was published just as public health advocates are raising questions about Texas’ ability to prepare for the Zika virus. It is one of several southern states where officials say there is a risk of a local outbreak.

Read more:

Dying In Childbirth 2016: Maternal Death Rate In US Has Worsened Since 2000, Says New Study

Maternal Mortality In 2015: We Succeeded And Still Have Room For Improvement In Protecting Mothers' Lives

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