Published on May 23rd, 2019 | by Sunit Nandi0
What Is Technology’s Role With Regard to Mortality Rates in Children & Mothers?
The infant and mother mortality rate is a sad indicator of how a state’s healthcare system is functioning. It can point to problems in funding, education, and resources, and it may also indicate where a health system’s priorities lie. Rural areas with small healthcare systems experience these problems the most because they have much less access to quality healthcare. Luckily, tech advancements are improving the infant and mother mortality rate, giving a much more positive outlook for women who are pregnant.
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The Reality of Mother and Infant Mortality Rates
While it seems unfathomable, the United States is actually the most dangerous country in the developed world to have a baby. While the country has plenty of experienced doctors and advanced medical equipment, the problems stem from medical negligence, lack of access to quality medical care, and medical staff who need better training.
There isn’t enough basic care that’s being performed during pregnancy and in delivery rooms. If care was standardized, life-threatening problems and death could be prevented in many cases. Simple inattention to detail is resulting in women and infants suffering serious health problems and even dying as a result, but prevention and fast treatment could reduce the number of tragedies by almost half.
Common Childbirth Risks and Complications
There are three complications that occur frequently and that healthcare could make strides to prevent or treat:
- Blood clots, which can occur either before or after delivery.
- Complications related to high blood pressure.
- Postpartum hemorrhage, which is heavy bleeding following delivery.
It would be possible to prevent these issues if every hospital checked for them. Even big hospitals with great resources fail to perform these checks and prevent problems, often because predictive signs aren’t recognized. For example, heavy blood loss is a sign that a postpartum hemorrhage may occur. The medical team could then correct the bleeding early and have blood on hand should they need it. More training and education could help medical professionals recognize signs of these complications.
Technology to Detect Health Complications in Pregnant Women
Researchers at Purdue University are developing wearable tech that could let pregnant women know when they have a dangerous health condition that could cause pregnancy complications, particularly preeclampsia, which is caused by high blood pressure. Preeclampsia can lead to premature birth or cause damage to the mother’s organs. High blood pressure is also a cause of death for pregnant women, and many of those deaths could be avoided.
The technology would be able to detect the potential for preeclampsia before it actually develops. A supine pressor test determines kidney blood flow, particularly when the woman changes position, such as turning onto her side after laying on her back. When the test is positive, there’s a high likelihood that preeclampsia will develop. With early detection, prevention is possible.
Better Access to Healthcare Through Technology
Pregnant women in rural areas of the country often have limited access to healthcare, and the healthcare they do receive may not include the best resources. Advances in tech can provide better access for women, and fast, easy-to-access diagnostics can prevent complications and save lives. Here are a few ways tech is broadening the type of healthcare pregnant women receive:
Ultrasound units are expensive, but GE’s portable ultrasound is a less-costly alternative that uses a PC and special software. Even more convenient is the point-and-shoot ultrasound you can access through your phone. Developed by Clarius Mobile Health, doctors can turn their mobile phone into an ultrasound device. According to Forbes, “Creating an ultrasound device clinicians can carry in their pockets has led to a heightened adoption rate and expedited care times, with the majority of controls being automated.”
Mobile Health Programs
Mobile health programs, referred to as mHealth, create a bridge between the patient and professionals. Women can connect with health clinics and contact medical professionals, and they can also track pregnancy information, such as infant growth. According to a Medicaid study conducted in Wyoming, women who used a customized mHealth app consulted with their doctors more often throughout their pregnancy, were more likely to schedule prenatal visits and were less likely to deliver a baby with low birth weight.
Relief for Morning Sickness
While it’s rare, morning sickness can lead to major pregnancy issues. Severe nausea or vomiting can result in dehydration for the mother and cause poor weight gain for the baby. Technology like ReliefBand can provide morning sickness relief without the use of medication.
The overall health of the mother and baby throughout pregnancy and during delivery are of the utmost importance. Even issues that don’t seem life-threatening at first can have dire consequences later. For example, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, “Low birth weight can be a predictor of developmental delays and mortality among infants.”
Ways to Decrease Mother and Infant Mortality Rate
There are several prevention and treatment methods to reduce mother and infant mortality rate, particularly when it comes to the main causes of pregnancy-related death.
- Hemorrhage: Solutions include educating medical caregivers and better coordination of medical care. There could also be policies and procedures in place, especially to ensure early diagnosis. Patients should also be informed of warning signs of hemorrhage.
- Cardiovascular Conditions: Medical caregivers should be aware of the patient’s chronic conditions and the patient should know the warning signs of common cardiovascular problems. Misdiagnosis is also a common problem that could be prevented with more attention to detail.
- Cardiomyopathy: In addition to understanding the patient’s chronic conditions and limiting misdiagnosis, caregivers should encourage patients to get a specialized cardiology consultation.
Having a baby shouldn’t be dangerous, and women in the U.S. shouldn’t be scared at the prospect of giving birth because they don’t trust the healthcare system. Standardized care could solve major problems when it comes to the health and safety of pregnant women and infants. Additionally, women should be educated about what they should do in order to have a healthy pregnancy, such as products and foods to avoid, amount of sleep they should get, and relaxation techniques to keep their blood pressure under control. Every woman she receive quality care, no matter where she lives.