Image by Ray Dumas via flickr.
There was some good data analysis that turned personal for me last week, and I feel compelled to give a shout-out to the reporters and publications (Consumer Reports, CNN, Time) that covered the stunning rise in cesarean rates in the U.S. and revealed the enormous differences in C-section rates between hospitals.
This is really helpful stuff if you’re trying to find the best place to deliver a baby, as I’ve been for the past few weeks. And trust me, it’s no easy task.
I’m pregnant with my first child. As a health reporter, all the worries of pregnancy have been compounded by what I’ve long known about the health care system I’m up against.
The U.S. is a scary place to be expecting a baby. We spend more than any other country in the world on health care and more on childbirth related care – $86 billion annually – than on any other area of hospitalization, according to a 2011 editorial in the journal Contraception. Yet our maternal-fetal outcomes are some of the worst among developed nations.
RaceWire’s Michelle Chen took the time recently to remind readers that, while we are celebrating the decline of infant and childbirth-related mortality worldwide, there are still huge disparities in maternal mortality within the United States. For example, according to 1999-2004 NCHS numbers, top-ranked Maine loses only 1.3 mothers per 100,000 live births; that number is 34.9 in bottom-ranked D.C. and 20.5 in Georgia.
(New York City) Health officials found that of the 161 mothers who died of pregnancy-related causes between 2001 and 2005, Black women were seven times more likely to die than white women. The death rates for Asian and Latina women were twice as high compared to whites. While some affluent neighborhoods like Manhattan’s Chelsea were untouched by maternal mortality, the highest death rates were in enclaves associated with low-income communities of color, like Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, and Jamaica.
Chen writes that the disparities may be caused by a number of socioeconomic factors, including the lack of health insurance and the impact of health factors like obesity that affect blacks disproportionately.
RaceWire is the blog of ColorLines, which bills itself as “the national magazine on race and politics.”
The team at the Pulitzer Gateway (a site from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting) have turned their focus toward worldwide maternal health and produced “Dying for Life,” a package that spans five countries and three continents. Here are its components:
A reminder that despite a slight improvement in global maternal health, the situation in some countries is still deteriorating. The end result will be “Edge of Joy,” a documentary set to be released this summer.
Hanna Ingber Win visits maternal health programs administered by the UN Population Fund. She filed five dispatches.
Samuel Loewenberg investigated the social, medical, economic and political factors behind the “health crises” affecting two impoverished Mexican states. He filed three stories.
Marco Vernaschi photographed the everyday realities of a region with critical health care access and delivery issues.
Hanna Ingber Win investigated maternal health disparities and efforts to improve the situation in India, particularly the province of Assam. She posted five stories.