Childbirth Getting More Complicated

Photo: ERproductions Ltd/Corbis

Humans have had a couple hundred thousand years to perfect childbirth, but in the past ten years, we’ve managed to get worse at it. The rate of severe complications from childbirth like cardiac arrest, respiratory distress, and kidney failure increased by 75 percent in the decade that ended in 2009, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study cited in The Wall Street Journal, while severe post-partum complications more than doubled. The main cause is that mothers are older, more obese, and have more diabetes and kidney disease. But the uptick in cesareans has also contributed to complications in healthy women, including one called placenta accreta that is so terrifying, we will refrain from describing it here out of fear for the future of the human race. The CDC is funding safety-improvement programs to establish protocol for dealing with complications, which can arise quickly during childbirth, including obstetrics drills that simulate emergencies using “robots that mimic physiological states.” Maybe the robots can teach us self-defeating animals how to safely procreate again.