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You are here News Health Millions of Americans are losing access to maternal care. Here's what can be done

Millions of Americans are losing access to maternal care. Here's what can be done

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Counties with no obstetric care

Access to maternity care is decreasing in the parts of the U.S. that need it the most, affecting nearly 7 million women of childbearing age and some 500,000 babies.

That's according to a report released Tuesday by March of Dimes, a nonprofit focused on maternal and infant health. It finds that 36% of counties nationwide — largely in the Midwest and South — constitute "maternity care deserts," meaning they have no obstetric hospitals or birth centers and no obstetric providers.

It paints a slightly grimmer picture than the organization's last such report, which was released in 2020. Five percent of counties have a worse designation this time around, and there's been a 2% increase in counties classified as maternity care deserts — accounting for some 15,933 women living in more than 1,000 counties.

March of Dimes says these changes are driven primarily by the loss of obstetric providers and hospital services within counties, as a result of financial and logistical challenges including the COVID pandemic.

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