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Meeting the Challenges of Measuring and Preventing Maternal Mortality in the United States

Originally presented on . Encore presentation on .

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Women in the United States are more likely to die from childbirth or pregnancy-related causes than other women in high-income countries. More evidence is needed to understand the actual causes of death better, but research suggests that half of these deaths may be preventable. Racial disparities persist. The risk of pregnancy-related deaths for black women is three to four times higher than those of white women.

Watch this session of Grand Rounds to learn about efforts to analyze and prevent future deaths. Hear our speakers discuss the effects maternal deaths have on the family and on the community. You will also learn about how CDC has collaborated and intervened through public-private partnership efforts to prevent deaths associated with childbirth and pregnancy.

Beyond the Data

Dr. John Iskander and Dr. Michael Lu discuss why more than 700 women in the US die each year from complications during pregnancy and childbirth and how to prevent these deaths.

Beyond the Data podcast

Approximately 700 women die each year in the United States as a result of pregnancy-related complications. US Surgeon General Vice Admiral Jerome M. Adams and CDC’s Dr. John Iskander discuss the Surgeon General’s new "Call to Action to Improve Maternal Health." The Call to Action outlines crucial roles everyone can play to improve maternal health.

Audience Questions
I heard you say that you are unable to release state-specific PRMR rates due to an agreement with states. Can you explain why this agreement is in place, and what its purpose is? Where did it come from?

We are unable to provide state-specific pregnancy mortality surveillance system data by agreements with state Divisions of Vital Statistics. This has been the case for the 30 years of the PMSS and it is driven by the terms agreed upon between state Divisions of Vital Statistics and CDC so that privacy and confidentiality can be protected, small numerators can be respected and state data can be used to inform the national picture.

Have you looked at the incorporation of midwives into hospital settings as a way of improving maternal health outcomes?

The maternal death numbers are too small to analyze provider-specific data at this level. However, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American College of Nurse Midwives have a strong working relationship. This has been formalized by a joint document titled “Joint Statement of Practice Relations Between Obstetrician-Gynecologists and Certified Nurse-Midwives/Certified Midwives.

Presented By
Eleni Z. Tsigas, BA
Preeclampsia Foundation
"Maternal Mortality Beyond the Numbers"
William Callaghan, MD, MPH
Chief, Maternal and Infant Health Branch, Division of Reproductive Health
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC
"Accounting for Maternal Deaths: Action Requires Better Data"
Lisa M. Hollier, MD, MPH, FACOG
President-elect, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists;
Chair, Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force;
Professor, Baylor College of Medicine

"Policies and Practices to Protect Lives of Pregnant Women, Mothers and Mothers to Be"
Mary-Ann Etiebet, MD, MBA
Executive Director, Merck for Mothers
"The Role of Public-Private Partnerships in Generating Evidence for High-Impact Solutions"
Facilitated By
John Iskander, MD, MPH
Scientific Director
Phoebe Thorpe, MD, MPH
Deputy Scientific Director
Susan Laird, DNP, MSN, RN
Communications Director
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