Study: Many childbirth injuries could have been avoided

A new analysis by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has concluded that, at least as of three years ago, potentially avoidable injuries to mothers and babies during childbirth were relatively common.

The analysis, which examined 2006 data, noted that common problems included injuries to the newborn such as broken collarbones, head injuries and infections, as well as maternal injuries during delivery. During that year, they concluded, almost 157,700 injuries to mothers and newborns could have been avoided. Obstetrical traumas during vaginal births with instruments accounted for the highest rates of injury.

Rates of obstetrical trauma were 44 percent higher for women living in communities that had higher median household incomes than for women living in the poorest communities. Meanwhile, newborns covered by Medicaid and uninsured newborns had higher injury rates than those covered by private insurance.

An interesting note, however, was that overall injury rates for neonates and birthing mothers have fallen significantly since the year 2000. For example, obstetric traumas for mothers occurring during vaginal birth without instruments fell 30 percent during that period.

To learn more about this trend:
- read this AHRQ report (.pdf)

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