Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

A mom holds her newborn

"It's a failure at all levels, at national organization levels and at the local hospital leadership levels as well," said Dr. Steven Clark, a leading childbirth safety expert. (Photo: steve_h/flickr/cc)

US the 'Worst Place in the World' to Give Birth: USA Today Investigation

Half of the 700 deaths that happen each year could be prevented with better care, the investigation found

Andrea Germanos

A new USA Today investigation offers a searing indictment of maternal care in the United States, and says the country "is the most dangerous place in the developed world to give birth."

"Deadly Deliveries," the result of a four-year investigation, references federal data showing that more than 50,000 women are "severely injured" and roughly 700 die during childbirth each year. Perhaps even more staggering is that "half of these deaths could be prevented and half the injuries reduced or eliminated with better care," the investigation found.

The findings, based on interviews with women and a trove of internal hospital records, "reveal a stunning lack of attention to safety recommendations and widespread failure to protect new mothers."

Such failures often stem from inadequate or delayed responses to hemorrhages and dangerously high blood pressure.

A disturbing trend noted in the report: from 1990 to 2015, in most developed nations the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 births was steady or dropped. Not so in the U.S., where the figure soared. In Germany, France, Japan, England, and Canada the number had fallen to below 10 in the time frame. In the U.S., meanwhile, the figured soared to 26.4.

California, though, is an exception. The state's maternal death rate fell by half—a drop attributed to it adopting "the gold standard" of safety measures.

Looking at the overall picture in the U.S., though, "it's a failure at all levels, at national organization levels and at the local hospital leadership levels as well," Dr. Steven Clark, a leading childbirth safety expert and a professor at Baylor College of Medicine, said to USA Today.

One of the investigative reporters, Alison Young, talked with "CBS This Morning" about the report:

The investigation follows a related analysis out late last year by ProPublica. Affirming previous studies, its analysis found "that women who hemorrhage at disproportionately black-serving hospitals are far more likely to wind up with severe complications, from hysterectomies, which are more directly related to hemorrhage, to pulmonary embolisms, which can be indirectly related. When we looked at data for only the most healthy women, and for white women at black-serving hospitals, the pattern persisted."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Biden Drilling Report Blasted as 'Shocking Capitulation to the Needs of Corporate Polluters'

"Greenlighting more fossil fuel extraction, then pretending it's OK by nudging up royalty rates, is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic," said one campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·


UNESCO Members Adopt First Global AI Ethics Agreement 'To Benefit Humanity'

"We're at a critical juncture in history," said Ethics in Tech founder Vahid Razavi. "We need as humans to come together and decide what is the best course of action to take with these technologies before they surpass us in their abilities."

Brett Wilkins ·


Progressive US Lawmakers Mark Black Friday With Calls to Pass the PRO Act

"The right to organize, fight for better working conditions, and fair pay must always be protected."

Jessica Corbett ·


'We Are Fighting Back': Global Black Friday Strikes and Protests Seek to #MakeAmazonPay

"We are workers and activists divided by geography and our role in the global economy but united in our commitment to Make Amazon Pay fair wages, its taxes, and for its impact on the planet."

Kenny Stancil ·


'It Was Entirely Avoidable': Rich Countries Blamed as New Covid Variant Sparks Global Alarm

"Allowing new variants to emerge and spread, 13 months into the vaccine era, is a policy choice by the rich world."

Jake Johnson ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo