Nearly 36% of US counties are 'maternity deserts': report

Access to maternity care is diminishing during COVID-19 in places across the country, according to a report released Oct. 11 from March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization.

Five findings from the report:

1. Thirty-six percent of U.S. counties are designated as maternity care "deserts," defined by March of Dimes as those without obstetric hospitals or birth centers and without obstetric providers.

2. More than 146,000 babies were born in maternity care deserts.

3. More than 2.2 million women of childbearing age live in maternity care deserts.

4. A total of 4.7 million women live in counties with limited maternity care access.

5. Overall, the 2022 March of Dimes report showed a 2 percent increase in counties classified as maternity care deserts since the 2020 report.

The 2022 March of Dimes report is primarily based on data from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration. The organization cited several limitations, including that it did not use geospatial analysis and that use of obstetric care hospitals and birth centers did not account for the provision of prenatal care in other healthcare settings such as hospital satellite clinics.

Access the full report here

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