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U.S. Maternal Death Rates Rise in 2013, Study finds

Update Date: May 05, 2014 02:42 PM EDT

In a new study examining maternal deaths during childbirth and pregnancy throughout the world, researchers reported that the United States was one of eight countries that had rates go up. The other countries included Afghanistan, Greece and nations from Central America and Africa. According to the report from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, maternal death rates increased between 2003 and 2013.

In the U.S., the maternal mortality rate in 2003 was 17.6 per 100,000 live births. In 2013, the maternal mortality rate increased to 18.5 per 100,000 live births. The researchers found that the greatest increase in mortality rates occurred for the age group of 20 to 24. From 1990 to 2013, the incidence rate of women dying due to childbirth or pregnancy in this age group rose from 7.2 to 14 for every 100,000 live births. Out of the 180 countries studied, the U.S. came in at number 60, which is a lot worse from its previous ranking of 22 in 1990.

"For American women, high-risk pregnancies and the number of women with inadequate access to preventive and maternal health care are just two potential causes of this trend," study author Dr. Nicholas Kassebaum said in a press release. "The good news is that most maternal deaths are preventable, and we can do better."

Even though the death rate increased by a small percentage, the researchers believe that more needs to be done to reduce this number of deaths. When compared to the death rates from other developed countries, the U.S. is clearly lagging. In Canada and the United Kingdom, the death rates were 8.2 and 6.1 per 100,000 live births respectively in 2013.

The study, "Global, regional, and national levels and causes of maternal mortality during 1990-2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013," was published in The Lancet.

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