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A May 2017 collaboration between NPR and ProPublica highlighted the prevalence of death and serious illness related to pregnancy and childbirth in the United States. In fact, the U.S. has the worst rate of maternal deaths in the industrialized world. Annually, 700 to 900 women die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes, and about 65,000 experience life-threatening complications.
Women living in the United States are three times more likely than those living in Canada to die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Considerable racial disparities in pregnancy related mortality exist. From 2011-2013 African American women in the United States were nearly at 3.5 times greater risk to experience pregnancy related mortality.
As a nation with access to some of the best technology and medical expertise in the world, the United States is capable of doing more to improve pre-and post-natal care for all women. Nurses occupy a vital role in the perinatal education, assessment and care. Let’s unite behind legislation that designates the Chief Nurse Officer of the USPHS as the National Nurse for Public Health who will advocate for improved care across the lifespan, including maternal and child care.