June 17, 2020
Pregnancy and childbirth complications have increased significantly since 2014, according to a new report from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
Pregnancy complications rose by 16.4% among commercially-insured women ages 18 to 44, the analysis showed. Childbirth complications increased by 14.2%. Women who had complications during pregnancy were twice as likely to have childbirth complications too.
The analysis examined 1.8 million pregnancies between 2014 and 2018.
In the Philadelphia region, pregnancy complications exceeded the national rate in 2018, but childbirth complications were less common.
There were 213 pregnancy complications per 1,000 pregnancies, well above the national rate of 196 per 1,000. There were 13.2 childbirth complications 1,000 births compared to 16.9 per 1,000 nationally.
Millennial women, who account for 85% of all pregnancies in the U.S., have experienced large increases in major depression, hypertension and type 2 diabetes – conditions that may be contributing to a higher risk of pregnancy and childbirth, according to a previous BCBSA report focusing on millennial health issues.
Since 2014, major depression has increased by 34% among pregnant women ages 18 to 44. Hypertension has risen by 31% and type 2 diabetes has jumped by 28%.
The COVID-19 pandemic also is increasing the challenges pregnant women face. One in four women are skipping prenatal visits and 53% reported that they couldn't have a loved one in the delivery room with them. In addition, 48% of prenatal appointments have shifted to virtual visits.
Independence Blue Cross offers its Baby Blue Prints program to help support expectant mothers. Through the program, pregnant women can be screened for depression and receive personal health coaching to better manage chronic health conditions.
"Independence is committed to supporting our pregnant members through every stage of their pregnancy, including ensuring they have access to educational and clinical resources, especially as we navigate these uncertain times," Dr. Ginny Caliga, vice president of Medical Affairs at Independence said in a statement.
"We're encouraging all our members, including pregnant women, to use telehealth services as a way to ensure they don't miss any vital appointments and get the care they need."