According to a new report conducted by the State of the World Mother’s, the United States ranks 33 out of 179 countries surveyed for maternal health.  Just last year, the U.S. was at 31. How can a country so developed be drastically behind other countries in taking care of mothers and their newborns? Could it be the medical establishment in the country that is driving the maternal health crisis, or something far more hidden and obscure?
Maternal Health Even Worse in United States
One out of 1,800 women each year dies during or following childbirth, representing the worst maternal death rate of any developed nation. The U.S. also ranked 42 out of 179 for children’s wellbeing, and 89 out of 179 for political status. Washington, D.C., seems to have the highest rate of infant mortality at about 7.9 deaths per 1,000 live births. To put this into a comparable perspective, cities like Oslo and Stockholm rank below 2.0 deaths per 1,000.
Could a Simple Nutritional Factor Be the Culprit?
The requirement for iodine increases over 50% for pregnant mothers, but many still fail to receive enough through food.  Even physicians may overlook this crucial nutrient need. We know, based upon current meta analyses, that iodine deficiency increases infant mortality.  Research also shows that low iodine intake during pregnancy may also harm a baby’s IQ.  These findings suggest that, if we increase our awareness around iodine in medicine and the media, we may perhaps see a drop in infant mortality and increase in maternal health.
- Eliana Dockterman. U.S. Ranks Worst Developed Country for Maternal Health. TIME.
- Zimmermann MB. The effects of iodine deficiency in pregnancy and infancy. Paediatr Pernat Epidemiol. 2012 Jul;26 Suppl 1:108-17. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3016.2012.01275.x.
- Paolo Vitti, MD. Iodine deficiency disorders. UpToDate.
- Sarah C. Bath, PhD, Colin D Steer, MSc, Prof Jean Golding, FMedSci, Pauline Emmett, PhD, Prof Margaret P Rayman, DPhil. Effect of inadequate iodine status in UK pregnant women on cognitive outcomes in their children: results from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). The Lancet. Volume 382, No. 9889, p331-337, 27 July 2013.
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