12 August 2008

Why cesarean rates matter

One compelling statistic when judging a nation against others is the maternal mortality rate. It's a huge indicator of whether a country is first world or below, the prosperity of that country etc. Or is it?

The US is the top of the heap for many things, but safety in giving birth isn't one of them. We rank number 41st in the world for maternal mortality, with 13.1 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. That means there are 40 countries where it is safer to give birth:

It is safer to give birth in the following countries: Australia, Austria,Belgium,Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France,Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemborg, Malta, Netherlands,New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Quatar, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and the United Kingdom

But here's the kicker...because of NJ's status as highest in the nation for cesarean rates, if we were our own country, NJ would be 51st (down from the already deplorable 41st that is the US ranking), with 21 deaths per 100,000 live births! (and this is based on old 2004 stats - the numbers have gotten worse)

In addition the the 40 countries the US (as a whole) ranks behind, NJ would also be behind: Bahamas, Barbados, Balaras, Brunei Darussalam, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Serbia and Montenegro, Singapore, Ukraine, Uruguay.

Props to ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) of Somerset County, NJ for pulling together this information. According to their calculations based on CDC statistics,

The NJ maternal death rate is 60% higher than the US average.

So this isn't a simple debate of birthing preferences - this is life & death, if not for us then for our neighbors right here in NJ.


Elizabeth Gallo said...

Hooray ICAN! Hooray doctors, like Dr. Winsome Parchment who believe in the natural process of birth and VBAC for when it didn't go so well the last time. And boo to St. Barnabas, its insurers and doctors who shrug off these terrifying statistics. And finally, thank goodness for doulas and midwives who keep the safety and spirit of birth alive -- especially here in NJ.

DoulaMomma said...

Nicely said, Elizabeth - thanks!

Dorothy H. said...

This is a huge concern for moms birthing here in NJ; I appreciated your great blog post! And so many of them are shocked when they hear the statistics.

I echo your kudos to Somerset ICAN for their work in compiling the stats.

It's an uphill battle here a lot of the time...as a doula, I an trying to make a difference one birth at a time. But it can get quite frustrating.

Thanks again!

DoulaMomma said...

thank you, dorthy, for your comment & for serving the women of the garden state!