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Maternity Deserts and Short Staffing Risk American Births

American women increasingly face threats to their lives during childbirth, with many residing in “maternity deserts,” or counties without hospitals or birth centers offering obstetric care. A March of Dimes report from August 2023 revealed that over 5.6 million women now live in areas with restricted or no access to maternity care services, up from 2.2 million in 2022. This shortage of services is compounded by a rise in pregnancy-related deaths, with a nearly 14% increase in 2020 from the previous year. Dr. Elizabeth Cherot, March of Dimes’ president, emphasized the critical nature of the issue, stressing the urgent need for solutions. The report recommends measures such as expanding Medicaid, enhancing maternity care via telehealth, and addressing racial disparities in healthcare. The underutilization of midwives, despite their proven benefits, remains a significant concern, with advocates calling for broader acceptance and integration of midwifery into mainstream healthcare.

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