Medical help to rural areas & expanding role of midwives among steps for Georgia to cut maternal mortality
No place in the United States is more dangerous for a pregnant woman than Georgia. In 2014, the national rate of maternal mortality was 17 deaths per 100,000 live births. In Georgia that same year, the rate was 25.9 dead mothers per 100,000 live births.
That’s according to The Valdosta Daily Times in Georgia. The article cites statistics backed by other online sources, including U.S. News & World Report. Lawmakers, midwives, and others in Georgia are fighting to reduce maternal mortality. It often strikes black, Hispanic and rural mothers more than whites in the Peach State.
According to Harvard Medical School, deaths related to complications of pregnancy or childbirth, or within six weeks after giving birth, are recorded as maternal mortality.
Dozens of health facilities have closed in Georgia because of funding problems. Limited access to health clinics may be causing the high maternal mortality rate. The lack of access to health care in rural Georgia is extreme: 93 rural counties have no hospital with a labor and delivery service. Two-thirds of rural births happen outside of the mother’s home county.
Who is addressing maternal mortality?
These are among Georgia lawmakers’ and health leaders’ steps to take on maternal mortality:
- Established Maternal Mortality Review Committee in 2013.
- Mercer University School of Medicine’s Center for Rural Health and Health Disparities is working to reduce maternal mortality in rural areas.
- Rural health-care providers are trying to extend services, such as with telemedicine, to cover the miles between doctor and patient.
- Many midwives went into birth work after traumatic birthing experiences. They’re now pushing to spread their ways to rural Georgia. Midwives say they offer other unique services tailored to a family based on their needs.
- Community Midwives National Alliance was established in Atlanta.
- Georgia midwives are pushing the state legislature for licensing and regulation of “community midwives.” The legislation would establish a certified community midwife board, appointed by the governor, that would oversee licensing and certification.
- The drive of Georgia lawmakers and health leaders to take on maternal mortality must include bringing training to women in rural areas. This includes learning to spot warning signs for when a mother needs to go to the hospital.
Maternal deaths are unusually high
Studies yield different findings in terms of which states rate worse for maternal mortality. Georgia remains near the top.
USA Today did an investigation on maternal mortality rates from 2012-2016 that placed Georgia second at 48.4 deaths per 100,000 live births. Louisiana was first in that investigation. It had a rate of 58.1 deaths per 100,000 births. The investigation was updated on Nov. 14, 2019 after the original publication in 2018.
Georgia, Louisiana, and Indiana all had rates greater than 40 deaths per 100,000 live births in another study from 2011-2015. Georgia’s rate of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births from 2011-2015 led the country at 46.2, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics cited by U.S. News & World Report.
Georgia's maternal mortality rate is especially alarming for black women. They have a rate of 66.6 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to 43.2 for white women.
Funding problems closed some Georgia medical facilities. One provider said it takes about 350 birth deliveries per year for a hospital to break even in labor unit costs, but some rural hospitals get only 150-180 a year, racking up debt.
Contact Tyrone Birth Injury Lawyers in Georgia today for help with maternal mortality and birth injury issues.