Could obesity in pregnant women be a factor in why the mortality rate in pregnant women has tripled in the past decade? Why are more women in Sacramento, and particularly in California dying from causes related to pregnancy? Could it have a nutritional basis? Or might it be as a result of too many C-sections? The fact is in California, the mortality rate has tripled in the past decade. Doctors are worrying about the dangers of obesity that occurs while the woman is pregnant. Is the obesity linked to the complications of C-sections?
Could the problem be related to eating too much processed foods during pregnancy, a copper deficiency that disturbs the balance of zinc, selenium, and copper, or other nutrition-based upsets? Or is the real problem more like a huge group of women having their labors induced? This process is called ‘inductions.’ Having an induction doubles the chances of a C-section, according to the Sacramento Bee article.
Let’s follow the money. When hospitals do less inductions, there are less c-sections, fewer hemorrhages, and fewer hysterectomies after recent childbirth. But at the same time, hospitals lose money. As procedures are reduced, so does the amount of money coming into hospitals. C-sections bring in about twice the revenue of vaginal births. How many C-sections are performed?
It’s the single most common surgical procedure in the nation. Again, the problem might be traced by following the money. But getting back to nutrition, is it possible the C-section epidemic in the USA might have a root cause–poor nutrition such as too much processed food, sugary foods, and too much soda pop? Or obesity, type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, hypertension during pregnancy, and other issues that are affecting pregnant women?
The mortality rate of women in California. According to the February 3, 2010 Sacramento Bee article, “Pregnancy-related deaths rise in California: Rise Seen Over a Decade; Report not Released,” by Nathanael Johnson ,California Watch, the State Department of Public Health has declined to release a report outlining the trend. According to the Sacramento Bee article, “Investigators who wrote the report, however, confirmed it shows the most significant spike in pregnancy-related deaths since the 1930s.”
For further information, check out the site of the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative, the public-private task force investigating the problem for the state.
Obesity as well as the tripling of the maternal death rate directly from complications of pregnancy is nationwide. It’s not only in California or in Sacramento.
You can check out the site for the Joint Commission, the leading health care standards group in the United States. Read the “Sentinel Event Alert” sent to hospitals Jan. 26, stating, “Current trends and evidence suggest that maternal mortality rates may be increasing.”
The alert asked doctors to consider morbid obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes, along with hemorrhaging from C-sections, as contributing factors.
Other sites you can check out for information include the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Check out their figures for maternal mortality rates. You can look up the statistics for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Is the tripling related to more careful counting of deaths? Or is the tripling related to obesity, which in turn goes back to nutrition during pregnancy (and before)?
Nutritionists can check with California’s Dept. of Public Health. But you’d have to review every maternal death in California. For that type of check, you’d need researchers to check the changes in populations, the age of the mother, her obesity, diet, fertility treatments, but do all these factors account for the tripling of maternal deaths since the year 2000? All the factors don’t add up. So are scientists going to look at obesity and nutrition during pregnancy and the age of the mother, or could it be nutrition before the pregnancy as well?
What about environmental pollution? One of the ways maternal deaths might happen is when amniotic fluid gets into the blood stream and quickly kills the mother and baby. This could happen during severe contractions. Or it could be an adverse reaction to the anesthesia. Or a lot of other factors unpredictable. But why is it happening now? What are doctors doing now that they didn’t do a decade ago?
Obesity increased, but at the same time C-sections increased 50 percent in the same years that maternal mortality tripled. There is a task force looking into why changes in clinical practice could prevent a significant number of these deaths. But for the majority of women, pregnancy is still safe.
What are the statistics in California? According to the Sacramento Bee article, 95 women died from causes directly related to being pregnant, out of half a million live births where the mother and baby survived.
The U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services wants California to bring down its mortality rate for pregnant mothers. In numerous other countries, it’s lower. The rate has to be brought down to 28 deaths related to pregnancy instead of 95. But why do women have to die from pregnancy at all?
If nutrition is a factor, statistics point to African American mothers being three to four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes. It’s not from being paid less money for work. High income Black women also are at greater risk. Is it diet or genetics?
And can those little epigenetic tags on geness be switched on or off by a change in nutrition? The only problem is that the task force found a more dramatic increase in deaths among white, non-Hispanic mothers and not among Black or Asian mothers.
Maybe it’s time for a change in nutrition before and during pregnancy to find out what can be done to reduce complications from pregnancy that lead to so many material (and baby) deaths during pregnancy. If obesity is a factor, so is later age of pregnancies. Should women count on a change in nutrition? Or should age be a factor in deciding whether to take a risk and get pregnant? Or is it about doctors performing too many C-sections? What changes are responsible in the environment, the person and her weight, nutrition, or in medical practices?