Which U.S State Has the Highest Maternal Mortality Rate?

Pregnant woman (SLO County)

Pregnant woman (SLO County)

You wouldn’t necessarily guess that *any* state in the U.S. has a high maternal mortality rate (i.e. mothers who die due to pregnancy- and birth-related complications), but one has that dubious honor. And that is the great state of Texas.

In the September issue of medical journal Obstretics and Gynecology, a report found the following:

The maternal mortality rate in the United States increased between 2000 and 2014, even while the rest of the world succeeded in reducing its rate. Excluding California, where maternal mortality declined, and Texas, where it surged, the estimated number of maternal deaths per 100,000 births rose to 23.8 in 2014 from 18.8 in 2000 – or about 27%.

Bet you didn’t expect that, right? (I certainly didn’t.) But how bad is it really?

From 2000 to the end of 2010, Texas’s estimated maternal mortality rate hovered between 17.7 and 18.6 per 100,000 births. But after 2010, that rate had leaped to 33 deaths per 100,000, and in 2014 it was 35.8. Between 2010 and 2014, more than 600 women died for reasons related to their pregnancies.

Texas is part of the developed world, so the maternal mortality rate surge cannot be explained by “war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval.” So what is it?

In recent years, Texas has severely decreased women’s access to spaces that offer medical services for reproductive health. In 2011, “the Texas state legislature cut $73.6M from the state’s family planning budget of $111.5M.” This measure resulted in 80 clinics closing across the state. Planned Parenthood clinics were also completely eliminated, which cut off access to reproductive health measures for lower-income women especially. Planned Parenthood had previously served 130K+ women across the state.

While Texas restored the family planning budget to its original level in 2013, the damage was already done: Many clinics are still struggling to provide the same level of care and service they provided before the cut. But Texas clinics are now offering free IUDs, so there’s some hope they’ll be flourishing soon.

 

 

 

China’s (Now Ended) One-Child Policy: By The Numbers

Chinese One-Child Policy poster (The Galloping Beaver)

Chinese One-Child Policy poster (The Galloping Beaver)

Most people have heard of China’s infamous one-child policy. it’s exactly what it sounds like: each married couple is only allowed to have one child.

Now the policy has ended. Actually, it ended on Jan. 1st, less than a week ago.

A lot of people don’t know the story behind the concept, and why it was initially implemented. Here are some numbers that made the one-child policy look like a sensible idea at the time:

China’s total population:

1960: 667.1M

1970: 818.3M

China’s population grew 151.2M in 10 years, or at the rate of 15.12M per year. The government was worried that the population would continue growing exponentially at the same rate, with the country eventually becoming unsustainable.

Fertility rate:

1960: 5.76 births/1 woman

1970: 5.47 births/1 woman

The fertility rate stayed stable (and strong) throughout the 1960s.

Crude birth rate:

1960: 20.9

1970: 33.4

This metric shows the “number of of live births occurring during the year, per 1,000 population estimated at midyear.” The number hit a high in 1963 with 43.4, no doubt sending the Chinese government into a full-fledged panic.

With the above stats as historical context, it’s a bit easier to see why the Chinese government implemented the One-Child Policy, and kept it for the 35 years they did.

#ThrowbackThursday: Chinese One-Child Policy Propaganda Poster, 1986

Chinese One-Child Policy poster (The Galloping Beaver)

Chinese One-Child Policy poster (The Galloping Beaver)

As of Jan. 1, China’s one-child policy is officially history. Married couples are now allowed to have up to two children for the first time since 1979.

I’ve always thought propaganda posters were interesting, and here’s a great one for the one-child policy. It’s from 1986, and titled, “Carry out family planning, implement the basic national policy.” The image carries that can-do attitude made popular by Rosie the Riveter, and it’s easy to get swept up in the sentiment. Not to mention, the overall poster design’s pretty great too.

 

How Many Children are Born on New Year’s Day?

baby after bath #11

Baby (Dermatique UK)

Happy 2016! I hope it’s off to a good start for everyone, and your resolutions are intact so far.

In the spirit of the season, I was curious to find out how common New Year’s Day births are. No more auspicious time for a baby to make its debut, right?

The United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics kept records of popular birthdays from 1995 to 2014. As you can see below, New Year’s Day sees around 200 fewer births than any given day in England:

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U.K. Average Daily Births (The Telegraph UK/Office for National Statistics)

If you absorb best by color-coded blocks, here’s every day of the year plotted out:

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Birth registrations in England and Wales, 1995-2014 (The Telegraph UK/Office for National Statistics)

Click on the link to go to the whole table (it’s interactive). Jan. 1st can only claim 1,574 births, which makes it the 364th most-popular birthday.

I don’t know enough to hypothesize if birth patterns are the same in the United States, but I’d love to find out.