Later Pregnancies Means Rise in Childbirth Deaths

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Kelly Sue

One of the trends happening in the western world is the tendency for women to wait until later in life to have their children. This has a number of causes, but the bottom line is that the median age for having your first child is advancing. According to a recent study, this phenomenon may have unintended consequences among women in the UK.

High-risk pregnancies on the rise

Couples in the UK (as well as elsewhere in the world) are waiting longer to start their families. What that means is that there are, proportionately, more high-risk pregnancies that what we’ve seen in the past. When you add in an increase in obesity, you can begin to see where there might be an increased danger.

While there aren’t as many childbirth deaths as there were half a century ago, there has been a significant rise in deaths not directly caused by the pregnancy.

Common problems for older women

Indeed, there are a number of health concerns that older women may face that contribute to these statistics. Older women (statistically speaking) tend to be more obese, have high blood pressure, be at a higher risk for gestational diabetes, or have thromboembolism.

Substandard care an issue

There are a couple of concerns that researchers had as far as how exactly these problems lead to an increased number of childbirth deaths. In about a third of cases, the issue was major substandard care where different medical care procedures could likely have kept the mother from dying.

The failure to diagnose conditions properly during pregnancy, pay attention to the symptoms that pregnant women are experiencing and then treat related conditions is at the heart of the problem. It’s up to physicians to become more familiar with the relationship between disease and pregnancy, and how one can impact the other.

Researchers proposed an increase in how many obstetricians are now in the UK, and also suggesting that General Practitioners receive more training in obstetrics.

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