Dying from Childbirth

U.S. women are dying from childbirth at the
highest rate in decades, new government figures show.

Though the risk of death is very small, experts believe increasing maternal obesity and a jump in Caesarean sections are partly to blame.

Some numbers crunchers note that a change in how such deaths are
reported also may be a factor.

Dr. Jeffrey King said -- quote -- ``Those of us who look at this
a lot say it's probably a little bit of both.''

King is an obstetrician who led a recent New York state review
of maternal deaths.

The U.S. maternal mortality rate rose to 13 deaths per 100,000
live births in 2004, according to statistics released this week by
the National Center for Health Statistics.

The rate was 12 per 100,000 live births in 2003 -- the first
time the maternal death rate rose above ten since 1977.

To be sure, death from childbirth remains fairly rare in the
United States. The death of infants is much more common -- the
nation's infant mortality rate was 679 per 100,000 live births in

Maternal deaths were a much more common tragedy long ago. Nearly
one in every 100 live births resulted in a mother's death as
recently as 90 years ago.