In recent years American obstetrics has been severely criticized. Certain of the criticisms have been justified. The compilation by the Children's Bureau1 of the maternal mortality rates for the year 1929, which showed that the United States stood third from the bottom among the nations reporting to the International Health Office, was indeed discrediting; even making allowances for some differences in the methods of reporting, this country's record is bad. Two nations, Chile and Scotland, had rates that were higher than that of the United States, and Norway's rate of 3.0
compared unfavorably with the 7.0 of the United States. In 1929 if the United States rate had been the same as Norway's there would have been 9,000 fewer maternal deaths in this country.
However, unsatisfactory as the situation was, it was not as bad as many of the articles appearing in both lay and professional journals pictured it.
RUNNELS SC. AN OBSTETRIC AUDIT. JAMA. 1939;113(5):402–408. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.1939.02800300032009
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