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Why cesarean rates matter

Posted Aug 12 2008 9:20am
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.

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