The Breakdown - childbirth death cases in Texas

A report in 2016 suggested suggested Texas had an alarming problem with women dying during childbirth. But we’re break down new numbers that show it might not have been as bad as we were made to think.

Every day, 830 women die giving birth, according to the World Health Organization. They say 99 percent of those are in developing countries, with 239 maternal deaths per 100,000 births. In developed countries, it averages 12 per 100,000.

"The statistics were alarming," Representative Shawn Thierry said. “I also had a personal experience with this when I had my daughter. I had a very traumatic birth experience, and I almost lost my life.”

So you can understand why Representative Thierry and the whole country was shocked when research published in 2016 stated Texas had seen deaths during childbirth double between 2010 to 2012 – seeing roughly 36 deaths per 100,000 births. That’s three times the average for a developed country.

"I knew something had to be done,” Representative Thierry said.

So she took part in the fight for a state task force to look at what was going on.

The new numbers are now in, and according to findings, those alarming rates had been wrong. The rate was actually closer to 15 maternal deaths per 100,000 births.

"What they believe happened is when they were filling out the death certificates, that they accidentally clicked ‘pregnant’," Representative Thierry said.

A clerical error resulting in inaccuracies the team worries may be happening elsewhere in America, breeding bad data that could misguide legislators and others trying to spot problems.

"We shined a spotlight on an issue that needed national awareness,” Representative Thierry said.

But, this is not where the story ends.

“I spoke with our director of the Maternal Mortality Task Force in Texas and she has assured us that work is going to continue,” Representative Thierry said. “Remember this is just one year’s data. This is only 2012. We haven’t looked at 2013, 14, 15, and going forward.”

Representative Thierry, who represents our medical district, says that the new data did still show that African American women have triple the mortality weight during pregnancy of white women. She says she will continue to fight to bring all of these numbers down.

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