birthing-injury-pub-domainA study released in late September has shed light on the gap in birthing injuries between rural and urban women in Canada. The report, which was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that ‘compared with women in urban areas, those in rural areas had higher rates of severe maternal morbidity and severe neonatal morbidity,’ which, in some situations, would be cause to consult with an obstetrical malpractice lawyer. Additionally, babies born to rural mothers are more likely to be pre-term and weigh more than usual.

Birthing complications like eclampsia, which can cause seizures in mothers during childbirth, uterine rupture, and obstetric embolism were all found to be more common in rural mothers than those living in urban or suburban settings.

“I thought we wouldn’t find big differences, but I was surprised, actually, that there were some differences in some conditions that can be potentially life-threatening,” Dr. Sarka Lisonkova, one of the study’s authors and a professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of British Columbia, told the Globe and Mail.

Dr. Lisonkova and her UBC team studied data from every birth which took place in British Columbia between 2005 and 2010. The investigation included data from more than a quarter-million women, around a tenth of whom lived in rural regions of the province. While the report does not offer concrete explanations for the urban-rural gap, Dr. Lisonkova has ‘theorized that rural women have both a harder time accessing good prenatal care – including ultrasounds – and a harder time travelling swiftly to far-flung hospitals to deliver,’ the Globe reports. Widespread rural health trends such as elevated rates of teen pregnancy, obesity, and substance abuse were accounted for in the study’s findings.

Most of the conditions identified in the report remain quite rare, but their occurrence can lead to serious complications and injuries to both mothers and children. While rural women who have suffered a birthing complication can still contact an experienced obstetrical malpractice lawyer, the Canadian healthcare system must work to expand access to high-quality pre-natal care for women across the country. Over the last decade, small-town Canada has lost more than 40 birthing units, according to a Globe and Mail survey of provincial health ministries, meaning almost 20 per cent of Canadian women must now travel more than two hours to give birth at a health centre.

“The risks are higher [for rural women],” Dr. Lisonkova said. “It’s important to know, because if these women are potentially facing geographic or other barriers they need to be more carefully monitored.”

While an obstetrical malpractice lawyer can provide guidance and possible financial aid to women who have suffered a birthing injury, access to functional, prepared health centres is the best way to ensure the health of both mothers and children. Today, rural health units struggle to retain highly trained practitioners, and often face budgetary shortfalls. Increased funding from all levels of government could help ease these burdens.

If you or a member of your family has suffered a birth injury, contact an obstetrical malpractice lawyer at Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers’ Medical Malpractice Group today. They can help you understand your legal standing and advise you on your best path to recovery.

Greg Neinstein