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Georgia Remains a Dangerous Place to Give Birth

Georgia Remains a Dangerous Place to Give BirthGeorgia ranks 6th in the top 10 worst states to give birth because of cost, quality of care, and maternal mortality rates.

According to WalletHub statistics, Georgia ranked near the bottom (46th, 48th, and 42nd) in three respective categories: health care, baby-friendliness, and family-friendliness. The state’s highest ranking was #29 for cost. The state’s infant mortality rate is 6.25 deaths per 1,000 live births, higher than the national average of 5.60 deaths for every 1,000 live births.

WalletHub found that the average vaginal birth in Georgia costs approximately $7,264.89 with insurance and $13,410.70 without insurance. Cesarean sections cost even more. Although the annual cost of child care per child in Georgia ($7,630) is lower than some states, it is still considered a major expense for Georgia families.

Many Georgians receive inadequate prenatal care. According to WalletHub, 15.6 percent of pregnant women received care beginning in the fifth month (or later) and were provided less than half of the appropriate number of visits according to the baby’s gestational age.

Preterm birth is another issue plaguing Georgia families. A recent March of Dimes Report Card gave Georgia an “F” for pre-term births. Atlanta also earned an F with a preterm birth rate of 11.9 percent, higher than the U.S. rate of 10.4 percent.

What is preterm birth?

Preterm birth, also known as premature birth, happens when a child is born before the 37th week of pregnancy. A full-term pregnancy usually extends about 40 weeks. Preterm births can be categorized based on the gestational age at birth:

  • Late preterm: 34 to 36 weeks
  • Moderately preterm: 32 to 34 weeks
  • Very preterm: Less than 32 weeks
  • Extremely preterm: Less than 28 weeks

Babies born preterm may face a variety of health challenges due to underdeveloped organs. The earlier a baby is born, the higher the risk of complications, which might include respiratory distress syndrome, feeding difficulties, temperature regulation issues, jaundice, and a higher susceptibility to infections.

Causes of preterm birth

Several factors can contribute to preterm birth, including:

  • Medical conditions: Such as high blood pressure, diabetes, infections, and problems with the uterus, cervix, or placenta.
  • Lifestyle factors: Including smoking, alcohol use, and drug use.
  • Multiple pregnancies: Carrying twins, triplets, or more.
  • Maternal age: Very young or older maternal age.
  • Previous preterm birth: History of preterm delivery increases the risk.

Preventive measures to help avoid preterm birth include:

  • Regular prenatal care to monitor and manage health conditions
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
  • Managing stress
  • Avoiding substance abuse

If preterm labor is detected, medical interventions might be necessary to delay labor and manage any health issues. Babies born prematurely often require specialized care in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Infant mortality a problem in Georgia

Georgia has some of the highest infant mortality rates in the nation – 33.9 deaths per 100,000 live births. Infant mortality refers to the death of a baby before their first birthday. The causes of infant mortality vary and can be influenced by a range of factors, including maternal health, quality of and access to medical care, socio-economic conditions, and environmental factors.

Some of the primary causes of infant mortality include:

  • Preterm birth and low birth weight. Babies born before 37 weeks of gestation often face complications because their organs are not fully developed. Infants weighing less than 5.5 pounds at birth may have difficulty maintaining body temperature, fighting infections, and feeding.
  • Birth defects. Structural or functional abnormalities that occur during intrauterine life that can result in physical or intellectual disabilities and, in some cases, death.
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). SIDS is the sudden, unexplained death of a seemingly healthy baby, usually during sleep, and is also known as crib death.
  • Pregnancy complications. Health issues such as preeclampsia, diabetes, infections, and chronic diseases in the mother can affect the baby’s health and survival.
  • Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections can be particularly dangerous for newborns, whose immune systems are not fully developed.
  • Complications during delivery. Labor and delivery issues such as prolonged labor, umbilical cord problems, or difficulties with the baby’s position during birth can lead to oxygen deprivation and other critical issues.
  • Unsafe sleep conditions. Factors such as placing a baby on their stomach to sleep, soft bedding, and overheating can increase the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related deaths.
  • Both before and after birth, lack of essential nutrients can lead to growth retardation, weakened immunity, and increased vulnerability to infections and other health issues.
  • Environmental factors. Exposure to environmental pollutants and toxins can affect fetal and infant development.
  • Poor sanitation. Lack of clean water and sanitation can lead to infections and diseases that contribute to infant mortality.
  • Socio-economic factors. Families with limited resources may struggle to access quality healthcare, nutrition, and living conditions, which are crucial for infant survival and health.
  • Medical malpractice. The mismanagement of labor and delivery, medication errors, improper use of forceps or vacuum extraction during delivery, ignoring signs of fetal distress, and other medical errors that constitute medical malpractice can lead to infant mortality.

Efforts to reduce infant mortality typically focus on improving maternal health, ensuring access to quality prenatal and postnatal care, promoting safe sleep practices, preventing and treating infections, and addressing social determinants of health.

The Savannah birth injury lawyers at Harris Lowry Manton LLP understand the physical, mental, and financial challenges that birth injuries place on Georgia families. If you or someone you loved received inadequate prenatal care or was the victim of medical errors leading to the death of the mother or infant, call us in Savannah or Atlanta, or fill out our contact form to set up an initial consultation today.

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