Poverty in UK could increase death rates during or after pregnancy, warns WHO | Pregnancy

The cost of living crisis could exacerbate the already dire rate of British women dying during and after pregnancy, warns the World Health Organization, with more expectant mothers falling into poverty. Health inequalities are becoming more acute.

The UK lags behind most of Europe, with 9.6 mothers for every 100,000 babies dying within six weeks of giving birth, with suicide being the leading cause of death.

Dr Natasha Azopardi Muscat, WHO Director-General and maternal health physician, said there was a “visible link” between a woman’s chances of dying in the weeks before and after childbirth and high levels of deprivation. ‘ said there is.


She said the WHO is “extremely concerned” that the situation in the UK could be exacerbated by the cost of living crisis.

“Clearly, not only is everyone experiencing the same level of maternal mortality, but we know that there are disparities and that people living in the most disadvantaged areas continue to have the highest maternal mortality rates, so this is the case. I think it’s a very powerful and important message,” she said.

“It’s not just [about] Focus on maternal care itself and ensure an adequate and qualified workforce [to give] Quality of care – all this is very important – but there seems to be something about the potential risk factors a woman had prior to conception, and her wider socioeconomic and perhaps ethnic background. , which also influence the results.

Azzopardi-Muscat added that “other countries with similar levels of economic development are doing better in terms of maternal mortality”, noting that the UK has “room for improvement” and the WHO plans to publish the data and sheds more light on this. Early 2023.

She is concerned with deteriorating health conditions in pregnant women, including high levels of diabetes and obesity, and unreachable antenatal care for women of Black, Asian, and minority ethnic backgrounds and those living in disadvantaged areas. I blamed it on “improper” use of the service. .

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She said the UK needs to invest more in antenatal and perinatal mental health support at “a very sensitive and vulnerable time in a woman’s life” and reduce the “very alarming” suicide rate among new mothers. I added that there is.

The intervention comes after the UK Care Quality Commission warned of a “worrisome decline” in women’s experience of obstetric services due to a shortage of frontline staff. said they found their care assessments “worsening”, and many felt they had not received the support they needed during labor and delivery, or were not listened to during childbirth. I am reporting that I feel raised concerns.

MBRRACE Saving Lives, Improving Mothers’ Care, reported in November, found that women living in the most deprived areas were more than twice as likely to die than those living in the richest parts of the UK, and more than twice as likely to commit suicide. accounts for 18% of all deaths. .

A recent international analysis shows that the UK is an outlier in terms of maternal health, with UK mothers being three times more likely to die before or after pregnancy than Norwegian mothers.

Professor Marianne Knight, an Oxford academic who led the MBRRACE study, said the problem was that Britain was “designing our system for white, middle-class women, but we weren’t sure they were all We need to design our system so that it works for

She added: Inequality among people in the least affluent areas is widening compared to the richest areas. “

Experts have warned that cost-of-living pressures could exacerbate the situation.

Laura Seebohm, Chief Executive of the Mothers’ Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) said:

A recent poll of 500 mothers commissioned by a charity found that 72% of those who had given birth within the past three months said their concerns about the cost of living during pregnancy were negatively impacting their mental health during pregnancy. reported that only 30% of those who gave birth reported 18-24 months ago.

In addition to causing general anxiety, cost of living concerns can directly affect a woman’s ability to travel to an appointment or receive assistance. “There’s a real fear of being judged if the heating isn’t on because you don’t have enough,” she said.

Jess Heron, chief executive of Action on Postum Psychosis, said she was concerned about the recent increase in bereaved families contacting charities following the suicide death of a relative due to postpartum psychosis. A long trend of decreasing maternal mortality associated with postpartum psychosis”.

The charity is campaigning for more mother and baby units across the UK to make access to professional care more equitable. “In the absence of under-served mental health services and access to maternal-baby units, mothers may be separated from their babies, and the care and support they receive may be affected both physically and mentally. It’s not suitable for postpartum needs,” she said.

Azzopardi-Muscat said while ministers need to improve the quality of care and NHS staffing, the “very strong and important message” coming out of the report is that poor women are more likely to die. He said that it is necessary to first address the underlying structural disadvantages that are causing the problem. By providing “excellent services, especially in the most disadvantaged areas where need tends to be greater” within six weeks after birth, and “culturally appropriate” services for all ethnic groups.

She said maternal health is often seen as a ‘warning signal’ for the wider health care system, which could mean higher early childhood deaths and lower life expectancy in the UK. said.

In response to the question whether high maternal mortality rates indicated the devastating impact of poverty and social disadvantage on maternal health, Azzopardi-Muscat said that WHO urges countries to “ensure equality and welfare as principles”. pressure to develop the economy in a way that prioritizes “building

she said: This means that care is available in a timely manner to those who need it. “

A government spokesperson said:

“We will have 33 new maternal mental health services available across the UK by March 2024, mandating that GPs provide postnatal check-ups for new mothers and providing mental health support for those who have recently given birth. We are expanding access to

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