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Rate of pregnancy and childbirth complications on the rise in the United States: How we can reverse this trend

(BPT) – Pregnancy and childbirth should be a time of joy. But, today alone, 800 women around the world will die from complications experienced during pregnancy and childbirth, according to a WHO report. It is shocking to learn that most of these deaths are preventable.  

Despite significant global progress in reducing the number of women who die during pregnancy and childbirth, the rate of deaths has nearly doubled in the United States over the past 20 years. In addition, more than 50,000 women a year – one every 10 minutes – suffer a potentially life-threatening complication during pregnancy or childbirth. In fact, the U.S. ranks 47th among nations in terms of maternal health outcomes.

That’s why Merck, a global health care company, created Merck for Mothers – a 10 year, $500 million initiative focused on creating a world where no woman dies giving life. 

In collaboration with national and local partners in maternal health, Merck for Mothers has made an initial commitment of $6 million to programs in the U.S. focusing on:

* Linking high-risk women (for example, women with diabetes or high blood pressure) to health care services that will ensure good health during and beyond pregnancy;

* Creating guidelines to address childbirth emergencies so every woman can get the care she needs for a healthy pregnancy and delivery; and

* Researching to better understand why women are dying, and using that knowledge to improve pregnancy and childbirth care.

Women who are pregnant, along with their family and friends, can educate themselves about the leading causes of complications.  According to Merck for Mothers Executive Director, Dr. Priya Agrawal, leading risk factors are:

* Severe high blood pressure during pregnancy and childbirth (also known as pre-eclampsia)

* A life-threatening blood clot (also known as embolism)

* Excessive bleeding during/after giving birth (also known as post-partum hemorrhage)

Pregnant women should also talk with their health care provider about pregnancy complications to learn more about:  

1. The warning signs of pregnancy complications 

2. The risk factors for developing complications and what can be done to reduce risk

3. Future health implications associated with the complications for which pregnant women are most at risk

To learn more about maternal mortality, visit www.merckformothers.com.

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