This past weekend, CBS ran an updated version of a piece that first aired in April 2023 on the maternal mortality rate in the South. This latest piece, In Louisiana, pregnant women struggle to get maternal health care, and the situation is getting worse, once again highlights the facts surrounding maternal mortality in the US – that mothers here are two times more likely to die in childbirth or shortly after than their own mothers were, and that they are more than ten times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than their counterparts in Poland or Norway. These problems are worse in Southern states, with Louisiana having “the worst outcomes [in the developed world] for women having babies.”
This extends to the infant mortality rate as well; Louisiana’s infant mortality rate is among the highest in the country, at 7.5 per 1,000 live births. (The US average is 5.4.)
Deep pockets of poverty, healthcare deserts and racial biases are key factors putting birthing people at risk, as is the domino effect triggered by abortion bans passed last summer. Now, women suffering miscarriages may fail to receive adequate care due to physician fears, since methods typically used to treat miscarriage can also be used in abortions. Doctors are in many cases having to choose between providing the best care to their patients and the threat of jail time for themselves.
Infant health begins with maternal health, and there are potential answers to Louisiana’s problems. Some health care providers are hesitant to speak but others are not, and do here in this thought-provoking piece.