AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - A rise in maternal morality rates has local doctors questioning how to curb those numbers.
Between 2011 and 2014 the number of women dying within 12 months of their pregnancies nearly doubled.
There is no clear explanation behind the cause of this increase; however, doctors believe a handful of factors have played a role in the spike.
"Patients do tend to be less healthy these days," said Dr. Jill Gulizia of Women's Healthcare Associates. "They tend to come into pregnancy older in life which does increase the risk of complications during pregnancy. They may be obese or have a pre-existing condition such as high blood pressure or diabetes. All of those things will complicate a pregnancy."
A study published in the medical journal Obstetrics and Gynecology found the number of women dying within 12 months of their pregnancy rose from 18 to 33 per 100,000 people.
Health experts say this sharp increase is extremely rare in developed countries, but believe decreased access to healthcare can explain the rise.
In 2011, the budget for family planning clinics were cut and caused 80 facilities to close across the state.
"If health care is harder for people to access, they may not get that care they need during their pregnancy and may have a poor outcome," Gulizia said.
The study analyzed Texas and California individually because both offered a large enough sample size. While Texas is on the rise, California managed to reduce its maternal mortality rates.
Health experts recommend that women see their doctors before they become pregnant to determine if they are healthy enough to carry a child.