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United States experiencing a shortage in maternal health services

Over the next decade, the number of babies born in the United States is expected to increase sharply. Medical organizations and scholars say that dramatic charges have to be made in order to ensure the medical needs of their mothers are met.

America is seeing a shortage of obstetricians, gynecologists and nurse midwives. As a result, there are several states considering various proposals that would help improve overall health care for women.

One professor of gynecology and obstetrics at the University of New Mexico said, "It's very simple. Our population is continuing to grow faster than we are producing ob-gyns." According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives, almost half of U.S. counties don't have even one gynecologist/obstetrician within their boundaries, and over half don't have a nurse-midwife.

A Boston University community health sciences professor said that the shortage can cause significant consequences, and may be the reason why so many women die while pregnant.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, since 2012, the number of nurse midwives increased by 30 percent. However, there are still only about 11,200 working here in the U.S ; ob-gyns number about 20,000.

Some of the possible solutions include offering financial incentives for graduating medical students to go into ob-gyn practices. Another is to loosen the restrictions on nurse midwives; however, this may not be enough. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, by 2020, the U.S. could see up to 8,800 fewer ob-gyns, and an additional shortage of 22,000 by 2050.

A lack of maternal care means that those who practice in that field will have heavy patient loads. This increases the chances of a birth injury to the baby or an injury to the mother during delivery. If this occurs, an experienced attorney can provide information on the legal options that are available.

Source: The Pew Charitable Trusts, "A Shortage in the Nation's Maternal Health Care," Michael Ollove, Aug. 15, 2016

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