By now you’ve probably seen the latest alarmist news article designed to scare the public: “Experts: U.S. childbirth deaths on rise”.
Good Lord! Are women dying by the basketfuls? We must stop this awful mortality by the only means possible: More taxes and more birth control!
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 10 since 1977.
Wait. So it rose by 1 per 100,000? That’s an increase of .01%. In 2004, there were 4.1 million children born. In 2003, there was just a slightly smaller number of births. Doing the rough calculations, in 2004, 533 mothers died in childbirth and in 2003, there were 492. To be sure, each one of those deaths is a tragedy, but what does that increase tell us?
That increase is so comparatively small that you can draw no scientifically or statistically useful conclusions as to why there is a change.
This is typical media fearmongering, taking statistical data and turning it into a story that grabs everyone’s attention, but offers no benefit to anyone and doesn’t even say what they claim it does. They play on the emotions even more by trotting out very sad stories of maternal deaths that don’t shed any light on why we should connect them to a larger trend. In addition, some people in the story try to link the (very slight) increase to Caesarean sections, but even they have to admit that there’s not enough data to make that link. Same with maternal obesity.
So what we have is a lot of heat and light with no substance. About par for the course for the American mainstream media.[Thanks for Radical Catholic Mom for the link.]