Lack of maternal health care raises risks of deadly sepsis

In today’s contentious climate, we often hear political debates about maternal health care. Readers may be surprised to learn that maternal sepsis — a condition many are unaware of — is the nation’s second-leading cause of maternal mortality.

Maternal sepsis is the body’s overwhelming response to any infection that occurs during pregnancy, delivery, or the postpartum period. Its symptoms include temperature change (high or low), signs of an infection, mental confusion, and severe pain.

According to Sepsis Alliance, early detection provides the best chance for survival and recovery. As soon as a pregnant person experiences symptoms, they should seek treatment. Lack of treatment can mean the difference between life and death.

In recent years, maternity units and birthing centers have been closing at an alarming rate, particularly in rural communities. According to a 2022 report, 36 percent of U.S. counties are now “maternity care deserts,” reas without any maternal health care facilities. For 7 million women, low or no access to care makes dangerous outcomes from maternal sepsis much more likely.

We must do better. By raising awareness of maternal sepsis signs and symptoms, encouraging patients to seek treatment immediately, and fighting to keep maternal care facilities open, we can prevent deadly outcomes for people who develop sepsis during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period.

Myrna Pair

Everett

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