More American Mothers Dying From Childbirth

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Jill Chadwick

News Director

Office: (913) 588-5013

Cell: (913) 223-3974


            At a time when fewer women around the world are dying because of childbirth, The United States is the unfortunate exception. The World Health Organization says maternal mortality declined more than 40% worldwide from 1990 to 2015. During roughly the same period, the United States saw a 26.6% increase. What’s behind this disturbing trend?

            Dr. Charles Gibbs is the division director of Maternal Fetal Medicine at The University of Kansas Health System. He also serves on the Kansas Maternal Mortality Review Committee. In the video, he says this report should be a wakeup call for healthcare providers around the country. He describes how The University of Kansas Health System is trying to reverse the national trend by making an effort to decrease the number of C-sections…one of the reasons for the increase in the number of deaths. He says the philosophy at the health system is spontaneous birth is always preferable to a C-section unless there’s an emergency. He also credits emergency simulation training for everyone connected with mother-baby care, not just the doctors, with keeping the death rate low at the health system. He says other reasons for the higher number of deaths in America include the increasing age of women giving birth, the increase in diabetes cases and the opioid epidemic. Dr. Gibbs explains it’s very helpful to have the state review committee, something not every state has, as they’ve been able to learn a lot from the eight maternal deaths in each of the last two years in Kansas.