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Expectant moms may be at higher risk of dying

A study published in The Economist claims that American women who are expecting, including those in Arkansas, may be at a greater risk of dying now than at any other time in the last 10 years. National trends across the developed world show maternal death rates from childbirth dropping significantly, but America's is rising. While the odds are still much lower than the early 1930s, when one mother died for every 100 deliveries, this trend is disquieting for many.

One optimistic explanation is that America has become better at monitoring and connecting causes of maternal death within 42 days after childbirth. This includes a failure to diagnose conditions that could pose a risk to mothers. Before 2003, childbirth wasn't an option on most states' death certificates, further confusing the issue. Thus, the 1987 reported rate of 8 maternal deaths per 100,000 births may not be a true reflection of the actual numbers.

Underreporting of maternal deaths may also be a problem because regions vary in how deaths are reported. Statistics from the Czech Republic, Britain, Japan and Germany all reflect maternal death rates dropping to an average of about 6 per 100,000 live births. This is quite a bit less than the U.S. rate of 18.5 per 100,000. Poor health, pregnancy later in life, racial background and medical error may all be contributing factors to risk of maternal death.

An attorney representing the family of someone who has died from birth injuries will review the patient's medical records and other evidence. Once a clear picture of the cause and liability are established, the attorney might begin litigation to recover damages on behalf of the surviving family members.

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