An investigation by NPR and ProPublica discovered something stunning last year: America has a higher rate of women dying of pregnancy-related complications than any other developed country — and only in the U.S. is this death rate rising.

This weekend, the latest report in the series found something no less striking: California — a state where one in eight infants born in the U.S. take their first breaths — has cut its rate of women dying in childbirth by more than half since 2006.

The U.S. has 700 to 900 maternal deaths a year, and the CDC Foundation, an independent nonprofit that supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, estimates that 60 percent could be prevented. How? Better problem recognition, medical staff support and emergency planning. In California, the major innovation was the introduction of toolkits that centralize everything from checklists to sponges and pads. Hospitals using the carts lowered by nearly 21 percent the rate of severe maternal morbidity due to hemorrhage. Hospitals without them lowered that rate by 1 percent.

With 3.9 million babies born in the U.S. each year, this problem could be far worse, but American women shouldn’t be nearly at the risk that they are. Now the U.S. has a solution: Look to California.

Editorial by The San Diego Union-Tribune

Visit The San Diego Union-Tribune at www.sandiegouniontribune.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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