Baton Rouge doctors working to change continued rise in maternal deaths

Published: Mar. 7, 2022 at 11:52 AM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - More women are dying due to pregnancy or childbirth each year in the U.S., according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The report said maternal deaths in the United States jumped 14% between 2019 and 2020. Louisiana doctors see a similar rising trend and are working to change that.

“The number rises because of the main complications of pregnancy which are related to hypertension and excessive bleeding till you die following delivery,” Dr. Ralph Dauterive, Vice President of Medical Affairs for Ochsner Baton Rouge, told WAFB.

Dr. Dauterive said obesity and smoking drive Louisiana’s poor rankings. Reducing numbers in those areas would make us an average state for health care.

“The rise in obesity in Louisiana when you talk about pregnant patients being morbidly obese, now you’re really increasing all the risks that come with pregnancy, and you’re going to increase your risk of maternal mortality,” Dr. Dauterive said.

Dauterive noticed that the number of obese pregnant patients is extraordinarily higher than 10 to 15 years ago.

“We have good hospitals that deliver good care in their labor and delivery units,” Dr. Dauterive said. “That’s generally not where the problem arises, and it’s that prenatal network, and can you get people in that need to be seen who are uninsured or government-insured.”

WAFB asked what his message is for mothers thinking about getting pregnant.

“Most pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, so let’s be clear about that,” the doctor said. “That’s one of the problems that we have with prenatal care, so 50% of your pregnancies are unplanned. You really have to be thinking healthy before getting pregnant.”

He added it’s important to start thinking about your health early on.

You’ll be less likely to get a cesarean section, diabetes, and preeclampsia.

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