The risks associated with pregnancy and childbirth are often underestimated. In a
recent study in the U.S., only about half of women were aware that pregnancy entails
significant health risks, and only about half of the women surveyed were aware
that pregnancy increased the risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE), diabetes and
hypertension. The majority of women surveyed (76%) erroneously considered oral
contraception to be more dangerous than pregnancy. Even with access to modern
medical care, about 1 to 2 of every 10,000 U.S. births results in a maternal death,
with hemorrhage, cardiovascular conditions (coronary disease, cardiomyopathy,
stroke) infection, embolism, eclampsia and conditions related to mental health such
as drug overdose being the leading causes. Most of these deaths can
be avoided by improving women’s access to quality care before, during, and after
pregnancy and childbirth from a skilled birth attendant and, if necessary, hospital-
based emergency care.
Teen pregnancy and birth increase the risks for both mothers and their newborns.
The younger the mother, the greater the risk to her and her baby. In low- and middle-
income countries, babies born to mothers under 20 years of age face a 50%
higher risk of being stillborn or dying in the first few weeks versus those born to
mothers aged 20 to 29. Babies born to adolescent mothers are more likely to have
low birth weight, with the risk of long-term detrimental health effects.
The risks of pregnancy and childbirth are amplified for the many women who live
with pre-existing medical conditions. Conditions that can be made worse by pregnancy
include cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, thyroid disease, asthma, and
These problems are becoming increasingly common among women of reproductive
ages. If the 33% of caesarean births are included, almost half of deliveries
in the U.S. involve at least one medical complication. Excluding caesarean
births, more than one in four U.S. births is associated with at least one complication,
including obstetric trauma and laceration (8%), infection (6%), hemorrhage (4%),
gestational diabetes (4%), and severe preeclampsia and eclampsia (1%). Postpartum
depression occurs in 11% to 18% of deliveries and at more than twice that rate
among adolescent deliveries.
This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information. I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in this blog or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist (available in print or downloaded at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and elsewhere). Copyright 2021 by J. Joseph Speidel