– The maternal mortality rate in the United States has risen to its highest level in decades, the Associated Press reported Aug. 24, reaching 13 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2004. That was up from 12 deaths per 100,000 the year before, which was the first time deaths rose above 10 in 100,000 since 1977, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics. Race is a significant factor; African American women are three times more likely to die from maternal complications than white women. “The hardest thing to understand is how in this day and age, in a modern hospital with doctors and nurses, that somebody can just die like that,” said Tim Davis, whose wife Elizabeth died after giving birth in 2000.
– The feminization of poverty in the United States continues, according to 2006 Census data released this week. More than half of poor households are headed by women, and women comprise 56 percent of those living below the poverty line; children are about one-third of those living in poverty. Full-time working women saw their earnings drop 1.2 percent in 2006 from the year before. “We are being told we are in the fifth year of an economic recovery. I have trouble saying that with a straight face,” said Hannah Rosenthal, executive director of Chicago Foundation for Women. “These numbers show that women and children carry the burden of poverty in America.”
– An analysis from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research has found that the 100 best companies selected by Working Mother magazine lag in parental benefits, with 52 percent offering six weeks or less of paid maternity leave and 24 percent providing four weeks or less of paid leave to new parents. Twenty-eight percent of the firms provide nine weeks or more paid leave to women.
– The Bush administration watered down a pro-breastfeeding advertising campaign two years ago in response to pressure from infant formula makers, the Washington Post reported Aug. 31. The ads initially included blunt messages linking breastfeeding to health benefits, but were replaced with “friendly” images of dandelions and cherry-topped ice cream cones. The resulting campaign had no discernible results in improving U.S. breastfeeding rates.
Now go do something that will make you smile. This news sure won’t.
– David S. Cohen