As birth rates increase, OB-GYN shortage worsens

Residency matches for the first class of OB-GYN applicants post-Roe v. Wade will soon be announced. Preliminary data from the American Association of Medical Colleges shows that 2023 applications for the specialty have fallen from 2022, according to Roll Call.

Uncertainty about where and how to practice since Roe v. Wade was overturned may be a factor in the decline, Roll Call reports.

"A CQ Roll Call analysis found that 84 obstetrics and gynecology residency programs of 299, or 28 percent, accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education are based in states or territories enforcing pre-viability bans on abortion," the outlet noted. "While regional applicant data is not available, in interviews some students expressed reluctance toward training in states with abortion bans that could affect their scope of medical training."

As several hospitals close birthing centers and end obstetrics care, maternity care deserts are growing. The March of Dimes 2022 report found a 5 percent increase in counties across the U.S. that lost maternity access since 2020 alone, resulting in 2.2 million women who live in areas without this access. On top of this, the U.S. also recently hit a 58-year high in its maternal mortality rate, making it one of the most dangerous high-income countries in the world to give birth in.

As maternal deaths rise, centers end obstetrics care and fewer enter the specialty, preterm birth rates, cesarean delivery and low birth weights are all increasing, according to the CDC. These are conditions that sometimes lead to worse or increased health risks and require highly specialized obstetrics care, Roll Call reports.

"The U.S. consistently ranks poorly in maternal care and outcomes compared with other developed nations," the article states. "OB-GYNs warn that if the shortage isn't addressed, the problem will only become worse."

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