A recent report by the March of Dimes shows that about 36% of all US counties are “maternity care deserts,” and the number of counties where there is limited or no access to maternity care appears to be growing.
Researchers defined a maternity care desert as any county without a hospital or birth center offering obstetric care and without any obstetric providers, such as obstetricians, gynecologists, and certified midwives or nurse midwives. Maternity care deserts can be linked to a lack of adequate prenatal care during pregnancy or treatment for pregnancy complications, and even an increased risk of maternal death.
“[The women] live in places where there is either no or limited obstetric care – counties that don’t have a hospital that offers obstetric services, no ob-gyns, no certified nurse midwives, no birthing centers,” March of Dimes President and CEO Stacey Stewart said. “Today, the US is considered, among all highly industrialized countries, one of the most dangerous developed nations in the world in which to give birth. And part of the problem with that, and part of the reason for that, is because of these huge gaps in access to care.”
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