As the mother of two cross country athletes who won three high school state championships and made it to the Nike-sponsored national meet in 2015, I celebrate Allyson Felix's victory as a record-breaking Olympian. However, as a board-certified African American ob-gyn physician, I celebrate her victory over preeclampsia and motherhood even more.
On November 28, 2018, Felix developed preeclampsia at 32 weeks that necessitated an emergency cesarean, and her daughter spent approximately one month in the NICU recovering. Felix could have easily lost her life and baby as a black woman based on irrefutable statistics regarding black maternal health. Gratefully, Felix's physician had the skill set to recognize her risk factors and instructed Felix to go immediately to the hospital rather than an ESPN photo shoot.
This week, as thousands of Black women commemorate Black Maternal Health, Becker’s Hospital Review reported that one of the leading U.S. health plans made an astounding $5 billion profit in the first quarter of 2021, in the middle of a pandemic no less.
Shareholders are happy. The CEO is happy. The company’s employees are happy because they will all receive big, fat bonus checks, but do you know who isn’t happy? The families of 700 mothers who die each year from preventable, pregnancy-related deaths.
The business of medicine is killing us. According to CDC, in 1990, our pre-managed care healthcare system had a maternal mortality rate of 8 deaths out of 100,000. Thirty years later, the rate has more than doubled to 17.4 per 100,000 in the setting of managed care.
One of the first things a first-year medical student learns is the importance of taking a patient’s history because if you listen carefully, you will figure out the diagnosis. Yet it is often the failure to listen that leads healthcare professionals down the rabbit-hole of misdiagnosis that frequently leads to preventable death.
Each year, 700 U.S. families lose a wife, mother, girlfriend, daughter, cousin, niece, neighbor, or friend to a pregnancy-related death, and one of the most common refrains repeated over and over again is “they wouldn’t listen to her.”
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has taken those words to heart and initiated a public service campaign to raise awareness regarding the importance of healthcare professionals listening to the complaints and concerns of pregnant women and postpartum patients.
Eight months of torture caused the death of 8-yr old Gabriel Fernandez. Kira Dixon Johnson bled to death shortly after giving birth because her husband’s pleas and concern were ignored. A busy clinic missed an important risk factor of first-time mother, Amber Rose Isaac who hemorrhaged to death a late diagnosed HELLP Syndrome immediately after her son was delivered. What do these tragedies have in common? They were all victims of system failures.
Are you tired of witnessing these disasters because I am. As an OBGYN physician for over 30 years and a former social worker, here are my proposals for change regarding missed diagnosis of child abuse and OB risk factors:
May is Preeclampsia Awareness Month, which brings both sadness and joy. It is the second most common cause of maternal death, but gratefully we are a lot closer to understanding what causes it, which means we will be closer to finding a cure.
A few months ago, I was on a social media platform of a support group for pregnant women who were sharing their feelings and concerns about their high-risk condition. While I was trying to remain unobtrusive, one woman’s story was compelling. With her permission, I have included our online conversation to demonstrate that small acts of kindness can result in huge dividends for all.
In this episode of "Ask An Expert", Dr. Linda Burke, Ob/Gyn and author of The Smart Mother's Guide to A Better Pregnancy, chats with CEO Eleni Tsigas about what expecting moms need to know to navigate pregnancy during COVID-19.
Sixteen year old Erica Byrom’s refusal to have a C-Section, despite having severe preeclampsia made history when a Baltimore jury awarded her the largest medical malpractice verdict in the U.S. however, there is no reason to celebrate. Her daughter has significant brain injuries and will need round-the-clock care for the rest of her life.
The question is: does a 16-year-old teenager have the maturity to make a life and death decision?
According to new research released in the American Heart Association’s Hypertension Journal Report, the answer is yes. A new study has highlighted the use of functionalized magnetic beads to reduce blood levels of a harmful molecule by 40%.
During pregnancy the placenta produces molecules that can damage the mother’s blood vessels. When blood vessels are damaged, the blood pressure increases. These harmful molecules are called SFIL-1.
In our continuing series regarding preeclampsia, some clues are warning signs of worse things to come. Pregnant women are often misdiagnosed because some healthcare providers focus on the patient’s blood pressure and either ignore or are not aware of these other vital signs. Please don’t ignore the symptoms listed below. They could potentially save your life.
1. Headaches that don’t go away with over-the-counter meds such as acetaminophen (or Tylenol®) could be an early warning sign of high blood pressure. Please do not ignore a headache, especially if you are in the late third trimester (36 to 40+ weeks). Untreated high blood pressure can lead to stroke.
You all know that I am passionate about the accurate diagnosis and treatment of preeclampsia so you can imagine how excited I am about “Congo Red.”
According to an article in USA Today, researchers have created a test called “The Congo Red Dot” (CRD) test that can potentially save lives by detecting preeclampsia earlier in pregnant women.der text
Jessica Simpson, who’s in the third trimester of her pregnancy, shared a shocking pic of her swollen foot asking for ‘remedies.’ HL spoke to two obstetricians who think the actress should contact
her doctor ASAP.
Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway, board-certified OB-GYN and author, spoke to Hollywoodlife.com EXCLUSIVELY about why Jessica should seek immediate help.
“Preeclampsia is a disease of the placenta, so the strict cure is to deliver the baby and get rid of the placenta,” she explained. “Something in the placenta causes constriction of blood vessels and makes blood pressure go up. If left untreated, preeclampsia and progress and women can have a stroke, a seizure, or a pulmonary edema, which is too much fluid in the lungs.”.
Meghan Markle, 37, has broken royal tradition plenty of times before, so what’s to stop her from doing it again? The mom-to-be may decide to do a home birth, sources tell Vanity Fair. Either that or she
might opt for a hospital in Windsor, which is where she and her husband Prince Harry, 34, will reportedly be living by her spring due date.
Not only has she never given birth before, but “her age and being a woman of color would be risk factors, as well” Dr. Burke-Galloway said. Women of color have a higher chance of suffering
from preeclampsia, the same pregnancy complication that led Kenya Moore, 47, into an early labor last month.
Can camera phones help diagnose preeclampsia? The answer is a resounding, YES!!
Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway empowers pregnant woman by sharing vital information so that they begin to think like a doctor, not a patient. Her book and blog with the same title, ‘The Smart Mother's Guide to a Better Pregnancy’ teaches expectant parents how to avoid preventable medical errors and have a successful childbirth experience.
The ABC News segment, Dying to Deliver was well appreciated by yours truly and a woman named Anne Garrett,
who has been sounding the alarm about this devastating problem for over two decades.
Garrett, is a mom who had not one, but two near-death experiences due to preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome shortly after giving birth to her sons. The experience of nearly dying – twice compelled her to start the Garrett Singh Family Foundation which ultimately was converted from a private family foundation to a public charity known as the Preeclampsia Foundation to help increase awareness of the potentially devastating effects of preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome.
Long before the acclaimed article, The Last Person You Would Expect to Die by NPR and Nina Martin came to light (for which I am eternally grateful), an article written by Amnesty International, entitled Deadly Delivery, addressed this same issue. Garrett and I both read that article back in 2011 although we didn’t know each other at the time. She ultimately reached out to me based on my prenatal book, The Smart Mother’s Guide to a Better Pregnancy, and my description of the maternal death of one of my sorority sisters, Dawn Fleming from preeclampsia. In addition, she reached out to me because I am an African American OB-GYN physician and she knew that women who look like me die from preeclampsia at a disproportionate rate in compared to others. Her honesty and transparency are commendable.
It is said that art imitates life and the episode “Personal Jesus” in Season 14 of Grey’s Anatomy revealed some hard-core facts: patients die unnecessarily because of missed diagnosis.
Three patients entered the fictitious Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital and none of them left alive, including a woman who had just given birth to a healthy baby at 37 weeks. She was in labor at 37 weeks with a “normal” blood pressure but died of something called the “HELLP” Syndrome that is associated with pre-eclampsia.
“HELLP” is an acronym for hemolysis (breakdown of red blood cells), elevated liver enzymes and low platelets which help the blood clot thereby avoiding hemorrhage.
Women in one of the poorest communities in the District of Columbia will no longer be able to deliver babies at their community hospital, United Medical Center. Why? Please keep reading.
I will not address the absence of clinical standards performed by the staff that led to a newborn baby being infected with HIV and an obese preeclamptic patient with a severe breathing disorder being harmed. Go deeper into the root cause analysis and you will find politics and money as the culprits.
Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway, author of the Smart Mother's Guide to a Better Pregnancy discusses the interview she had with Hollywoodlife.com about the hit series, Downton Abbey and the eclamsia episode where Sybil Crawley dies in childbirth.
The month of May has always been special; it is the month that I officially became a physician exactly 30 years ago; it is the month that we celebrate Mother’s Day but unfortunately it is also a month that makes us aware that some mothers are no longer with us because of a pregnancy related condition called pre-eclampsia.
When a woman becomes pregnant, we immediately think happy thoughts: a new addition to the family, a new grandchild, the baby shower, what colors to paint the nursery and of course, the
challenging role of becoming a parent. We make the assumption that everything will be okay during the pregnancy but sometimes it’s not. Complications can occur during the pregnancy, during labor
and even after the baby is born.
The human body is a fascinating creation and it speaks to us if we have the wisdom to listen. The ability to recognize the “language” of the body can save our lives, especially during pregnancy. What are the symptoms that pregnant women need to recognize?
May is Pre-eclampsia Month, a time to empower all women about the dangers of this very deadly disease. It has claimed the lives of many women, including the grandmother of Vanessa Williams.
Although it has been described as far back as the days of Hippocrates, we still don’t have a cure in the 21st century.
Pre-eclampsia is a condition that involves high blood pressure, swollen feet or ankles and protein in a pregnant woman. It can occur anytime after 20 weeks but usually develops in the third trimester and affects up to 7.5% of pregnant women worldwide. Why is it so dangerous? Because the blood pressure can reach such high levels that a woman can have a seizure or a stroke and die. It can also reoccur for up to 6 weeks after the baby is born, is frequently and regretfully often misdiagnosed. How is it treated? By delivering the baby and therein lies the dilemma. Sometimes it occurs so early that some healthcare providers will either miss the diagnosis or are hesitant to deliver the baby because of its prematurity. The baby has to be delivered because the placenta is abnormal and must be removed.
As a young girl growing up in a small Long Island town called Amityville, Memorial Day was a huge holiday filled with parades and barbecues. I would inevitably end up at my friend Diane’s backyard eating a hotdog along with the rest of the kids on our block. It was also a day when we made our annual trip to the cemetery to place American flags on the graves of veterans and flowers on the graves of the deceased.
In honor of both Memorial Day and Preeclampsia Awareness Week, I’d like to take time to remember all mothers and their babies who died during childbirth, especially from preeclampsia.
What is preeclampsia and why is it so deadly? Preeclampsia is a condition of pregnancy in which there is high blood pressure; swelling of the ankles, feet, or face; protein in the urine; and abnormal kidney function. This condition requires the delivery of the baby in order to preserve the mother’s life and prevent seizures and strokes. The old fashioned term for preeclampsia was toxemia and it affects 1 out of 12 pregnancies each year. Approximately 76,000 women die annually from this disease and most people know of at least someone that it has affected during pregnancy.