Maternal mortality rates rising? - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

La Crosse, WI

Maternal mortality rates rising?

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LA CROSSE, WISCONSIN (WXOW)- A pregnant women enters the hospital and days later she can leave with her new bundle of joy.

This is how it usually goes, but not always.

A new report out of California found that the number of women who died in the state after giving birth nearly tripled over the past decade, from 5.6 deaths per 100,000 to 16.9 per 100,000 in 2006.

The United States sees about 11 deaths per 100,000 pregnancies when measured in 2005.

"The death rate in the United States overall is quite low. Obviously, it's not acceptable. Our goal is to have it 3.3 deaths per 100,000 pregnancies. We are far away from that goal. However, when we look at demographics of people in Italy or other countries versus the United States, again our biggest factor seems to be obesity," said Franciscan Skemp Health care Dr. Gokhan Anil.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 20% of all pregnant women in the U.S. are now obese at the start of their pregnancy.

These women are more likely to have underlying health conditions, including diabetes or underlying cardiac disease.  

Death after childbirth is still rare and many deaths were preventable.

"The best data that we have is actually a report from North Carolina back in the late 90s where they looked at all maternal deaths over a 5 year period. They found that there were over 100 deaths and 40% of those were preventable. About 60% were not and certain diseases like strokes were unexpected," added Dr. Ken Merkitch, Gundersen Lutheran.

Local healthcare physicians say in order to reduce the rate of maternal mortality we need to see a decline in obesity rates in the United States.

Pregnant mothers should follow a healthy lifestyle and comply with prenatal visits.

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