Maternal mortality rates rise

Study shows increase in pregnancy-related deaths

A recent study found that maternal mortality rates are on the rise in the Golden State, according to media reports.

In late April, the California Department of Public Health released a report that says the rate of maternal deaths jumped from eight per 100,000 live births in 1999 to 14 in 100,000 by 2008. The rates seemed to be highest among African-American women, who are reportedly four more times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than women from other ethnic groups.

Several factors may play into the increase, including obesity, better tracking of pregnancy-related deaths and an increase in age of the average mother. The number of Caesarean sections performed also has increased in the past decade, possibly contributing to the rise in deaths.

The committee responsible for the study concluded that rates would decline if women began pregnancy in better health. They also suggested that physicians encourage pregnant patients to stay at a healthy weight and be aware of the risks associated with C-sections.