2.2 million women live in 'maternity care deserts,' report finds

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More than 2.2 million women of childbearing age live in "maternity care deserts," or areas where hospitals do not offer obstetric care, birthing services or specialized providers, according to a new report from March of Dimes.

For the report, March of Dimes analyzed county-level data for 2017-18 from the Area Health Resources Files, a federal database that includes information on healthcare facilities, providers and population characteristics, among other categories. 

Five report findings:

1. About 35 percent of all U.S. counties (1,095 counties) were identified as maternity care deserts.

2. In 2017, nearly 150,000 infants were born to women living in these areas. 

3. Along with the 2.2 million women living in maternity care deserts, another 4.8 million are  living in counties with limited access to maternity care.

4. Most maternity care deserts (889) are in rural counties. The remaining 206 are in urban counties.

5. Only 8 percent of obstetrics providers report working in rural areas.

View the full report here.

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