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Top OB-Gyn news stories of 2023

UCI Health is one of America's Best Maternity Hospitals
UCI Health has again been recognized as one of the best U.S. hospitals for maternity care by Newsweek. Its ranking among America's Best Maternity Hospitals 2023 for the third consecutive year highlights the academic health system’s commitment to give each expectant mother superb care and an excellent childbirth experience.

UCI Health Maternity Services earns 'high-performing' rating for third consecutive year
UCI Health proudly maintains its status as one of the nation's premier hospitals for maternity care, achieving the "high-performing" rating from U.S. News & World Report in the 2023-24 rankings. It is the third consecutive year that UCI Health has earned the highest available rating.

High-risk pregnancy expert is alarmed by rising U.S. maternal death rate
The U.S. maternal death rate — already the developed world’s highest — spiked 40% in 2021, according to federal data released last week. That grim statistic is a call to action for Dr. Carol A. Major, who recently spoke to KNX News about the issue. “We are the richest country in the world, and we have the best technology in the world, and yet our moms are more likely to die during childbirth than pretty much any other developed country in the world, which is a really sad state,” said Major, an obstetrician who leads High-Risk Pregnancy Services at UCI Health.

Women with peripartum cardiomyopathy urged caution in future pregnancies
A new study suggests that women with peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) are at risk for a relapse if they become pregnant again, even if their left ventricular (LV) function recovers. Dr. Afshan Hameed, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist and cardiologist at UCI Health, spoke to Medscape about the study, with which she was not involved. She cites the findings as important for women who have had PPCM and are contemplating pregnancy.

Mother, baby saved from deadly birth complication
Nearly six months to the day after her son Landon was born, a grateful Rita Tira returned to UCI Medical Center this week for a reunion with the caregivers who worked heroically to save her from a sudden and deadly complication during childbirth. An experienced mom of two, Tira, 34, wasn’t worried about her third pregnancy. But in early June 2023, after 22 hours in labor, she developed a rare condition called amniotic fluid embolism (AFE). Fortunately, UCI Health high-risk pregnancy obstetrician Dr. Jonathan Steller was on duty that day, along with the specialty medical teams that ultimately saved Tira's and Landon’s lives.

Water-based lubricants are safe for vaginal use, a UCI study shows
Water-based lubricants that help postmenopausal women relieve pain associated with sexual intercourse do not appear to change or harm the vaginal microbiome, according to a new UCI study. The randomized study of pre- and postmenopausal women found that “the intravaginal microenvironment was not affected by the [water-based] lubricant in the long-term,” UCI Health gynecologist Dr. Michael L. Krychman, the study’s lead author, said at the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s annual meeting in Baltimore, Md.

UCI Health expert: diversity in medicine key to solving maternal death crisis
Maternal deaths in the United States have been increasing for years, hitting Black women particularly hard. The statistics have leaders, policymakers and researchers seeking solutions to the rising maternal mortality rate in the United States, the developed world’s worst. UCI Health high-risk pregnancy expert Dr. Carol Major spoke to Yahoo! News about one solution: having more Black healthcare providers. “I have found out that most patients want someone on their team to be a person of color. They feel that they will be better understood if that person taking care of them looks like them.”

Pregnancy is like a ‘stress test’ for the heart’
The tragic death of pregnant Olympic sprinter Tori Bowie last month due to “possible complications of childbirth” underscores the need to protect heart health during — and after — pregnancy. Throughout pregnancy, a woman’s blood volume increases by as much as 50% as the heart works harder and pumps more blood through the body to support the developing fetus. UCI Health high-risk pregnancy specialist Dr. Afshan Hameed, a leader in the field maternity and heart disease, compares pregnancy to “running on a treadmill for nine months.” “It’s like a cardiac stress test,” she told the Washington Post.