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High mortality rates seen in pregnant Heartland women

Puckett said insurance and transportation in rural Missouri are large barriers to getting checkups. (Louis Finley/KTVO)

A new report says pregnant Missouri women are dying at a rate higher than the national average.

The numbers are so high, it's comparable to developing countries.

"That's shocking, but at the same time, working in healthcare I see the number of patients that smoke and are obese," said expecting mom Abi Pickett.

The report by United Health Foundation said those two factors are the leading cause in cardiac-related deaths in pregnant women.

Pickett is also a licensed practical nurse at Complete Family Medicine in Kirksville. She advises "making an appointment with an OBGYN.”

Dr. Justin Puckett said it should start before that.

"The important pre-pre-natal care is seeing the doctor before before a pregnancy is established," Puckett said.

Dr. Puckett said northeast Missouri is on par with the rest of the state.

"Those state demographics, unfortunately we're not immune from their impact," Puckett said.

"We're seeing the obesity rate continue to rise again this last year ... add a pregnancy into the mix, that increases the work of the heart significantly," Puckett said.

Puckett said insurance and transportation in rural Missouri are large barriers to get checkups, but services are available for low-income moms-to-be and county health departments are available for basic monitoring.

"Keep up with the care so that you can get all those benefits so that you can have all the great wonderful excitement that pregnancy should bring," Puckett said.

A Central Intelligence Agency report lists the United States maternal mortality rate comparable to countries like Qatar and Lebanon.

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