Maternity Care ‘Deserts’ Widespread All through America, Report Finds


By Cara Murez HealthDay Reporter>

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 2, 2023 — Extra U.S. ladies live in areas with little or no maternity care, elevating concern about their potential to have a wholesome being pregnant and start.

New analysis from the March of Dimes reveals a 4% drop in birthing hospitals all through america and Puerto Rico, and decreased entry to maternity care in 369 counties since 2018.

Greater than 32 million ladies lack entry to reproductive well being care providers, together with household planning clinics and expert start attendants.

Greater than 5.6 million reside in counties with little or no entry to maternity care providers.

These maternity care “deserts” go away them susceptible to poor well being outcomes.

“An individual’s potential to have a wholesome being pregnant and wholesome start shouldn’t be dictated by the place they reside and their potential to entry constant, high quality care however these stories present that, as we speak, these components make it harmful to be pregnant and provides start for tens of millions of ladies in america,” mentioned Dr. Elizabeth Cherot, president and chief govt officer of the March of Dimes.

“Our analysis reveals maternity care is just not a precedence in our well being care system and steps have to be taken to make sure all mothers obtain the care they want and need to have wholesome pregnancies and robust infants,” she added in a March of Dimes information launch. “We hope the information supplied in these stories will function a catalyst for motion to deal with this rising disaster.”

Because the March of Dimes’ 2018 report (earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic), 70 extra counties have been labeled as maternity care deserts as a result of a lack of suppliers and obstetric models in hospitals.

The brand new report checked out every state, in addition to Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. States with the best charges of maternity care deserts have been the Dakotas, Alaska, Oklahoma and Nebraska.

Hospitals have been closing maternity models even earlier than the pandemic due to rising prices and low start quantity, the report famous.

Amongst different contributors, obstetrics is a medical discipline with a excessive burnout price, in response to the American Faculty of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. As well as, greater than 50% of births in maternity care deserts are lined by Medicaid, which supplies decrease reimbursement charges, in response to the American Hospital Affiliation.

Environmental and financial components, in addition to persistent well being circumstances additionally think about. The report finds that violent crime charges, air pollution and housing circumstances persistently point out the next share of insufficient prenatal care. That is very true for girls of coloration.

Different societal components that seem to have an effect on prenatal care in high-risk communities embrace instructional attainment, social help, poverty and meals safety.

About 8 of 10 maternity care deserts have a excessive burden of pre-existing persistent well being circumstances in pregnant ladies, together with hypertension, diabetes, weight and smoking that may have an effect on start outcomes, in response to the report.

“Each child deserves the healthiest begin to life, and each household ought to count on equitable, obtainable, high quality maternal care,” Cherot mentioned. “These new stories present that the system is failing households as we speak however paints a transparent image of the distinctive challenges dealing with moms and infants on the native stage – step one in our work to place options in place, and construct a greater future for all households.”

The report — “The place You Reside Issues: Maternity Care Deserts and the Disaster of Entry and Fairness” — is supposed to lift consciousness about these points and drive change.

Amongst different initiatives, the March of Dimes helps laws, applications and funding to maintain and increase telehealth applications for maternity care, state efforts to increase entry to care, in addition to workforce applications that help increasing well being care personnel in rural and underserved communities.

The March of Dimes additionally helps all states extending Medicaid’s postpartum protection from 60 days to a full yr. The group is funding quite a lot of initiatives geared toward addressing the shortages.


  • March of Dimes, information launch, Aug. 1, 2023

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