Rates of pregnancy-related deaths nearly double in Texas

Among the rising rate of pregnancy-related deaths across the U.S., Texas has experienced the steepest increase with rates nearly doubling from 2010 to 2014. In that four-year span, nearly 600 pregnancy-related deaths occurred in the state, according to a new study conducted by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

According to the study, the rate of maternal mortality increased by 23.8 percent to 26.6 percent from 2000 to 2014 in the U.S., while 157 countries monitored by the World Health Organization saw a decline in the same rates from 2000 to 2013. In 2012, 148 women in Texas died from complications related to childbirth. In 2010, that number was 72. The results of the study have prompted the researchers to further examine maternal mortality in the state as their initial assessment did not identify a clear causal relationship.

According to The Dallas Morning News, the 2011 uptick in pregnancy related deaths coincided with sweeping budget cuts that reduced the budget for family planning by two-thirds.

Sarah Wheat, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, told the Morning News the closure of many family planning clinics across the state eliminated an entry point into the healthcare system for many women.

"Chances are they're going to have a harder time finding somewhere to go to get that first appointment. They may be delayed in getting that initial pregnancy test and then a prenatal referral," said Ms. Wheat. "It's a tragedy and it really is an embarrassment. This is a problem we should be able to address and fix."

In 2013, the Texas Legislature created a task force to study maternal mortality in the state. According to the Morning News, the group is set to release its report to lawmakers on Sept. 1.

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