Timing pregnancy is important health issue

April 13, 2012 at 1:15 AM
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WASHINGTON, April 13 (UPI) -- Given that U.S. maternal mortality rates have nearly doubled, a U.S. researcher says timing pregnancy should be considered prevention healthcare.

Catherine Ruhl, director of Women's Health Programs at the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses in Washington, said contraception is a means of health promotion and women should work with their healthcare providers to ensure they are healthy prior to conceiving to minimize the risk of complications.

The U.S. maternal mortality is up sharply in the past 20 years, rising from a low of 6.6 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 1987 to 12.7 maternal deaths per 100,000 in 2007, Ruhl said.

In addition, a 2009 study showed an increase in severe obstetric complications from 1998/1999 to 2004/2005, with renal failure increasing by 21 percent, pulmonary embolism (blood clot) increasing by 52 percent and the need for blood transfusion increased by 92 percent, Ruhl said.

"There is a new urgency to ensuring that women have access to affordable contraceptive services given the rising rates of U.S. maternal morbidity and mortality," Ruhl said in a statement. "If women are able to choose when, and if, to become pregnant, they can protect themselves and their baby from pregnancy-related complications by ensuring they enter pregnancy in good health."

Health conditions such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension have increased in U.S. women, increasing their risk of pregnancy complications.

The findings were published in the journal Nursing for Women's Health.

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