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1 in 4 Indiana counties are maternity care deserts

The report shows a 2 percent increase in U.S. counties that are maternity care deserts from 2018 to 2020. Compared to 2018, that's about 16,000 more women without maternity care. Across the country, seven million women – and half a million babies – live in areas with little to no access to maternity care services.
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The report shows a 2 percent increase in U.S. counties that are maternity care deserts from 2018 to 2020. Compared to 2018, that's about 16,000 more women without maternity care. Across the country, seven million women – and half a million babies – live in areas with little to no access to maternity care services.

Many pregnant people in the U.S. – and in Indiana – continue to lack access to maternal health care.

According to a new report from the March of Dimes, 23 of Indiana’s 92 counties are designated as maternity care deserts, meaning there are no hospitals or birth centers offering obstetric care and no obstetric providers.

Between 2018 and 2020, eight Indiana counties have seen improvements in access to maternity care: Adams, Daviess, Delaware, Fulton, Johnson, Lagrange, Miami, Vermillion and Wabash. And nine have gotten worse: Fayette, Greene, Henry, La Porte, Orange, Pulaski, Ripley, Scott and Steuben.

The report shows a 2 percent increase in U.S. counties that are maternity care deserts from 2018 to 2020. Compared to 2018, that's about 16,000 more women without maternity care. Across the country, seven million women – and half a million babies – live in areas with little to no access to maternity care services.

March of Dimes found 36 percent of all U.S. counties are maternity care deserts, with the majority of care deserts located in the Midwest and the south. Rural counties are hit especially hard – 2 in 3 maternity care deserts are in rural counties. One in 4 Native American babies and 1 in 6 Black babies were born in areas with little or no access to maternity care services.

The report cites a loss in providers and hospital services in counties for the change. Maternity care deserts increase the risk for poor health outcomes for pregnant people and babies, including death.

Indiana has seen an increase in maternal deaths in recent years. An Indiana Department of Health report shows in 2020, 92 women died during pregnancy or up to one year after giving birth.

Contact reporter Darian Benson at dbenson@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter:

Copyright 2022 WFYI Public Media. To see more, visit WFYI Public Media.

Darian Benson is a reporter based at WFYI in Indianapolis. An Indy native, she is eager to report on public health in her hometown. Darian graduated with a journalism degree from Indiana Unviersity- Purdue University Indianapolis. Previously, she covered city and public policy for WFYI and statewide public health for Indiana Public Broadcasting.