Americans collectively spend more on pregnancy and childbirth than any other nation yet have the worst maternal and infant mortality rates in the developed world. The U.S. is the only developed country in which maternal mortality is rising. And as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported recently, the U.S. has seen increases in preterm births for four consecutive years as well as alarming rates of pregnancy-related deaths among black and Native American women.
It’s a complex problem made worse by a lack of maternal health data, scant research funding, and fear that commercial and public investments in anything pregnancy-related are too risky. According to a position paper by the American College of Physicians, women are underrepresented in research studies and, as a result, “progress is lacking” when it comes to understanding the causes of and solutions for many women’s health issues, including pregnancy-related deaths and health problems.