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Postnatal complications are on the rise in New Haven

In the past decade or so, the occurrence of complications suffered after childbirth by both the infant and mother has skyrocketed, causing severe injury and even death to many women and babies who, prior to the incident, were perfectly healthy. Now, hospitals in Connecticut and around the country are taking targeted action to reduce these fatal complications through a series of lifelike drills and exercises.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of complications during labor or delivery, such as respiratory distress and cardiac arrest, increased by a staggering 75 percent from 1999 to 2009. During that same period, the number of serious complications experienced by mothers in the first few days after delivery more than doubled. In sum, about 52,000 American women suffer severe complications during or after childbirth every year.

The reason for the increase is not entirely known. More mothers are older and more are obese, but young, healthy women have also experienced major complications. One possible reason is the more than 50 percent increase in the number of Caesarean section births in the last 15 years, which is believed to cause severe hemorrhaging in mothers after birth.

Regardless of the reason, hospitals have begun running intense drills to prepare for the kind of sudden, intense complications that tend to occur after delivery. Those drills involve simulations of the complications, sometimes using actresses and fake blood, and a specific, targeted method of treating those injuries.

Thus far, the results appear to be positive. Some hospitals that have implemented practice drills and other preparations have seen as much as a 5 percent reduction in post-delivery hemorrhage, and that number is only expected to grow in the coming years.Steep Rise of Complications in Childbirth Spurs Action

Source: Wall Street Journal, "Steep Rise of Complications in Childbirth Spurs Action," Laura Landro, Dec. 10, 2012

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