Maternal Mortality Rate Highest in Detroit

Detroit, Michigan’s maternal mortality rate is an alarming three times higher than the national average, per recent studies.

According to statistics from Detroit’s Department of Community Health, at least six pregnant women die each year from issues related to pregnancy injuries or childbirth. In fact, from 2008 through 2011, a total of 26 women died due to pregnancy or difficulties in delivery.

Per Kaiser Health News, experts speculate that maternal mortality rate is higher than average in Detroit due to the city’s toxins, as well as medical conditions, that have been linked to infant deaths that are higher than any other city in the United States. Chronic poverty and low socioeconomic status has also been suggested as a reason behind the high amounts of maternal mortality. Detroit has a poverty rate of a little over 40%, and many women are not afforded quality healthcare and/or insurance.

Another factor that plays into the increasingly high mortality rates is health issues. Many of these women suffered from diseases and disorders such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure

The aforementioned conditions increase the risk of delivering an infant prematurely, which is the leading cause of infant death in Detroit. In addition to the highest maternal mortality rate, the city also has the highest infant mortality rate among the major cities in the United States.

One mother from Detroit, 27-year-old Karen Patterson, developed a heart-weakening condition, known as pregnancy-induced cardiomyopathy, just 24 hours before she delivered her baby son. After admittance to the  DMC Hutzel Women’s Hospital, she was given oxygen and her labor was induced. Fortunately, Patterson and her son survived, yet many patients aren’t as lucky. 

Nurse Cheryl Larry-Osman, of the Detroit’s Henry Ford Health System, states that two pregnant women almost died the same day due to complications. As a result, Larry-Osman is a strong supporter of the Maternal Health and Accountability Act, which would help provide federal funding to help prevent maternal deaths.

It’s important to note that maternal death and birth injuries are on the rise nationwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), maternal mortality rates have spiked to 7.2 out of every 100,00 births in 1987, to 17.8 per every 100,000 births in 2009.

While many of these cases might be contributes to low-income areas and sparse access to quality healthcare, experts also suggest that better medical training may help reduce careless mistakes made physicians and hospital staff that may lead to preventable injuries and health conditions. In fact, there have been numerous accounts of birth injuries and maternal injuries in some of the nation’s wealthiest areas and at top hospitals.

Meanwhile, physicians urge all women who can become pregnant to try and stay as healthy as possible, limiting salt and high-fat junk foods as much as possible. Being healthy before pregnancy occurs significantly increases the chances of having a normal delivery.