Maternal mortality in the media


To help practitioners stay up-to-date on maternal mortality stories, Contemporary OB/GYN will post links to reports from mainstream media outlets on our Media page. Be sure to check back often for the very latest links and information.

While ob/gyns are certainly aware of the unacceptably high numbers of maternal mortality in the US, the general public is now becoming acquainted with the issue, thanks in part to coverage by mainstream media outlets, including magazines and newspapers, radio, and television. Your patients will be reading and listening to these stories with interest and, possibly, with concern. And they may turn to you for answers and reassurance.

To help practitioners stay on these stories, Contemporary OB/GYN will post links to these reports on our Media page, and we will include details about the source of the reports and the dates of publication.

Be sure to check back often for the very latest links and information.

Some states ignore black maternal and infant mortality rates. Not New Jersey.

Rewire.News 7/26/2018

"As the nation faces a stark gap in access and health care for Black mothers and infants, the Garden State recently allocated more than $4 million to six maternal and child health centers to help close it."


NYC to invest $12.8M in eliminating racial disparities in maternal deaths

Becker's Hospital Review 7/30/2018

"New York City earmarked $12.8 million for a five-year plan to reduce maternal deaths and childbirth complications among women of color, with a focus on eliminating the widest related disparity - the disparity in maternal mortality between black and white women."


To keep women from dying in childbirth, look to California

NPR 7/29/2018

"The state is leading the charge to reverse the nationwide trend: Since 2006, California has cut its rate of women dying in childbirth by more than half."


Hospitals know how to protect mothers. They just aren't doing it.

USA TODAY 7/26/2018

"USA TODAY obtained more than a half-million pages of internal hospital quality records and examined the cases of more than 150 women whose deliveries went terribly wrong. Reporters contacted 75 birthing hospitals to track whether they follow recommended procedures. Together, these documents and interviews reveal a stunning lack of attention to safety recommendations and widespread failure to protect new mothers."


It's 4 A.M. The baby is coming. But the hospital is 100 miles away.

The New York Times 7/17/2018

"Medical help is growing dangerously distant for women in rural America. At least 85 rural hospitals - about 5 percent of the country’s total - have closed since 2010, and obstetric care has faced even starker cutbacks as rural hospitals calculate the hard math of survival, weighing the cost of providing 24/7 delivery services against dwindling birthrates, doctor and nursing shortages and falling revenues."


Passing legislation to collect maternal death information could improve our ability to prevent them

The Hill 6/24/2018

"The Senate Health Committee will soon consider the Maternal Health Accountability Act of 2017 (S1112). If passed, this legislation would make grants available to support state-level efforts to form review committees, which, in turn, would specifically track and investigate pregnancy-related deaths, as well as study ways to prevent such deaths in the future."


The Mothers and Offspring Mortality and Morbidity Awareness Act can save black mommas

The San Diego Voice & Viewpoint 6/24/2018

Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) discusses why she introduced the “Mothers and Offspring Mortality and Morbidity Awareness Act” or the MOMMA Act, for short, and the impact it would have on African-American mothers.  


Why Washington is one of the worst places to be black, pregnant

Bradenton Herald 6/24/2018

"When her son died in a Washington hospital three days after he was born, Audri Cabness knew nothing about the statistics stacked against her or him. Only later did she learn that she was not alone in her grief, and that it was for a disturbing reason: The nation's capital is one of the worst places to be a pregnant black woman."


Black mom prays for safety in Missouri's hospital system

The St. Louis American 6/21/2018

"Ten years after investigating America’s maternal health crisis for Women’s eNews in New York City, I’m shocked to find that our country still lags in saving women’s lives during the most vulnerable time in her life – pregnancy and delivery.

I’m even more despairing now that I am a pregnant mom and resident of Missouri, which ranks 42nd in the nation for deaths during or shortly after pregnancy. My state’s maternal mortality rate is on the rise, with 32.6 pregnancy-related deaths per 100,000 live births in 2017 compared to 28.5 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2016, data released this March by the UnitedHealth Foundation reveals. For context, the national average is 20.7 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births."


ProPublica wins Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in innovation

PR Newswire 6/21/2018

"The Radio Television Digital News Association announced today that ProPublica won an Edward R. Murrow Awards for excellence in innovation for its “Lost Mothers” database, a collaboration with NPR. The national award honors outstanding achievements in electronic journalism.

Led by ProPublica reporters Nina Martin and Adriana Gallardo, along with NPR special correspondent Renee Montagne, the first-of-its-kind database was part of a year-long investigation on the maternal mortality crisis in the United States."


Why has Pennsylvania's maternal death rate doubled in 20 years?

Pocono Record 6/18/2018

"Sometime this fall, the state’s newly created Maternal Mortality Review Committee will meet for the first time and begin evaluating deaths of mothers to try to come up with recommendations to help cut the state’s steadily increasing maternal mortality rate, which has doubled since 1994, part of a national trend.

The state’s maternal death rate rose from 5.1 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1994 to 12.7 deaths in 2014, according to state data."


HRSA hosts Maternal Mortality Summit

PR Newswire 6/18/2018

"The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will host health care officials from six nations – Canada, Brazil, India, Rwanda, Finland and the United Kingdom – as well as thought leaders from across the U.S. government and academia on June 19-21 for a three-day conference on maternal mortality."


GOP lawmaker looks to address racial disarities in maternal mortality rates

The Hill  6/18/2018

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) has introduced legislation with Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) aimed at halving the maternal death rate.


Indiana maternal mortality focus of review

WBAA NPR  6/18/2018

"Indiana has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country, and efforts to find out why are underway.  Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the Maternal Mortality Review Committee bill recently. Side Effects Public Media reporter Lauren Bavis took a closer look at the issue and talked about it with Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Jill Sheridan."


Why Texas' new effort to fight maternal mortality with a checklist is a smart idea

Dallas News  6/12/2018

"The Texas Department of State Health Services and TexasAIM (Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health) announced last week that they are working with hospitals to ensure that they follow new standardized guidelines for treating women at risk of complications during and after birth. So far, 168 of Texas’ 242 hospitals have joined the initiative.

The concept is deceptively simple: Train staff to look for early warning signs of a problem like eclampsia or opioid addiction, know how to respond when complications arise, and keep this information at your fingertips."


Missouri among worst nationally in maternal deaths. Reps. say no to study on issue

The Kansas City Star  6/3/2018

"After about an hour of debate, the Missouri House of Representatives voted down Missouri Rep. SarahUnsicker's proposal, 49-78. She said she plans to try again next year, but there are costs associated with every delay...[The proposal] would have established a 14-member committee comprised mostly of maternal health specialists to do a comprehensive review of maternal deaths every year, identify what factors caused them and make recommendations to the legislature for improving the health care system."


Maternal deaths on agenda as 2,000 Texas doctors gather

Houston Chronicle  5/19/2018

"Policy-making delegates of the Texas Medical Association meeting Saturday will vote on a slate of proposals aimed at curbing the state's crisis involving women dying following childbirth. The proposals, many of which would require legislative action, were drawn from suggestions made by physicians who attended a maternal mortality conference in March."


Ohio researchers examine scope of maternal mortality

Cleveland Scene  5/15/2018

"With hundreds of women in the U.S. dying each year due to complications from pregnancy, researchers in Ohio are working to learn more about the scope of maternal mortality in the state."


Maternal deaths in PA to be investigated by newly created committee

90.5 WESA - Pittsburgh's NPR Station  5/16/2018

"Between 2014 and 2016, 51 Pennsylvania women died from complications due to pregnancy, and according to Gov. Tom Wolf, the current rate in Pennsylvania has doubled since 1994.

This prompted the Governor to sign Act 24 into law this week, which creates a 15-person committee to investigate maternal deaths in the commonwealth. The Maternal Mortality Review Committee will include Secretary of Health Rachel Levine or her designee and a variety of doctors, a social worker, a coroner and a health statistitian."


The Health Care System and Racial Disparities in Maternal Mortality

Center for American Progress  5/10/2018

"While there are a number of areas for reform within the health care system, key steps in reducing such devastating disparities include increased access to health insurance, quality health care, and providers that practice patient-centered and culturally sensitive care."


'Near Miss' Mothers: This risk of childbirth in America (video)

NPR  5/10/2018

"Over the past year, NPR and ProPublica have been investigating why American mothers die in childbirth at a far higher rate than in any other developed country.

In the course of our reporting, another disturbing statistic emerged: for every American woman who dies, 70 nearly die. That adds up to more than 50,000 women each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Three women share their stories of close-calls during childbirth."


Students simulate real-life maternal death story

Caldwell University  5/7/2018

Students at Caldwell University had the opportunity to witness a simulated event aimed at preventing maternal death. In introducing the event to the students, Dr. Brenda Petersen, associate dean of the School of Nursing and Public Health, cited statistics from the Centers for Disease Control showing preventable patient death is the third-leading cause of death in the United States. She said the United States has the worst rate of maternal deaths in the developed world, and 60 percent of these deaths are preventable.


Three steps to reducing Texas' maternal mortality [Opinion]

Houston Chronicle  5/4/2018

Addressing bias, priortizing a culture of maternal and fetal safety, and a continued focus on the issue are three suggestions offered to help address Texas' alarming maternal mortality rate. 


Suicide is a leading cause of death for new moms but awareness is low

Huffington Post  5/2/2018

Estimates suggest that one in seven new moms struggle with postpartum depression while postpartum anxiety is thought to affect up to 17 percent of women. As policymakers try to tackle the United States’ stubbornly high rates of pregnancy-related death, they still tend to overlook pregnancy-related suicide.


Why America's black mothers and babies are in a life-or-death crisis

The New York Times  4/11/2018

"The reasons for the black-white divide in both infant and maternal mortality have been debated by researchers and doctors for more than two decades. But recently there has been growing acceptance of what has largely been, for the medical establishment, a shocking idea: For black women in America, an inescapable atmosphere of societal and systemic racism can create a kind of toxic physiological stress, resulting in conditions - including hypertension and pre-eclampsia - that lead directly to higher rates of infant and maternal death. And that societal racism is further expressed in a pervasive, longstanding racial bias in health care - including the dismissal of legitimate concerns and symptoms - that can help explain poor birth outcomes even in the case of black women with the most advantages."


Black mothers keep dying after giving birth. Shalon Irving's story explains why

NPR 12/7/2017

Dr. Irving, a former epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was researching how childhood experiences affect health later on. Then three weeks after giving birth, she collapsed and died from complications of high blood pressure.


I almost died during childbirth and I'm not alone

Cosmopolitan 8/21/2017

Screenwriter, Rachel Stuhler, describes her experiences following postpartum hemorrhage and the aftereffects resulting from the incident.


How does racism affect pregnant women and babies

TED Radio Hour Podcast, NPR 3/16/2018

In her recent TED Talk, activist and doula Miriam Zoila Pérez, explains that racism and discrimination can have a detrimental effect on health - both in the mother and her fetus. But a healthcare model from a Florida midwife that provides accessible and respectful prenatal care primarily to African American and Latina mothers has found a way to help deliver healthy and full-term babies through a supportive and holistic approach (video).


Many women come close to death in childbirth

NPR 3/11/2017

NPR and ProPublica have reported American Mothers die in childbirth at a higher rate than mothers in all other developed countries. And for every woman who dies, 70 women reach the brink of death. 


Here's how California is bringing down its maternal mortality rates

Fusion 3/8/2017

Maternal mortality rates in the US have reached an all-time high. But California has actually seen its maternal mortality rates decline – the state’s death rate is almost one-third lower than the rest of the country. Here’s what the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative is doing to help prevent these deaths (video).


The reason childbirth is over-medicalized in America has its roots in racial segregation

Quartz 11/27/2017

"In the US, less than 10% of deliveries are led by midwives. The rate has languished in the single digits since a century ago, when expectant mothers largely stopped using midwives to embrace doctor-led childbirth, believing that was safer. Ironically, that shift has resulted in myriad problems stemming from the over-medicalization of childbirth."


Childbirth is killing black women in the US, and here's why

CNN 11/15/2017

"'What was different about me? Why didn't I die? What were the reasons for that?' asked Timoria McQueen Saba. 'I felt like I have a duty to tell this story, to represent my race in a way that not many people can, because I lived through it.'"


Why delivering babies is draining Maine's small hospitals

Bangor Daily News 11/13/2017

In less than a decade, at least three small Maine community hospitals have closed their obstetric departments, citing financial pressures and insufficient demand.


Rural America's disappearing maternity care

The Washington Post 11/8/2017

"Life in rural America can be tough, with challenges starting right from birth. Increasingly, rural women lack access to maternity services, jeopardizing their health and that of their newborns at a time when U.S. maternal mortality is rising."


What's killing America's new mothers?

Quartz 10/29/2017

Determining exactly why so many American mothers are dying of, or suffering through, pregnancy is a gargantuan public-health puzzle. 


A matter of life & death: Why are black women in the US more like to die during or after childbirth?

Essence 9/26/2017

Black mothers are between three and four times more likely to die of a pregnancy-related complciation than white mothers. Black women are also twice as likely to suffer a problem so severe that they almost die, referred to as a near miss. No single explanation captures why.


Is Pregnancy in America Much Deadlier than in Other Rich Countries?

The Economist 8/5/2017

Due to inconsistent definitions of maternal death on US death records, maternal mortality instances may actually be more in line with the rates of other developed nations.


'If you hemorrhage, don't clean up': Advice from mothers who almost died

NPR 8/3/2017

Survivors share advice on choosing a provider, preparing for an emergency, getting a provider to listen, what to do after the delivery, and grappling with the emotional fallout.


Many Nurses Lack Knowledge of Health Risks to Mothers After Childbirth

NPR 8/1/2017

In recent months, mothers who nearly died in the hours and days after giving birth have repeatedly told ProPublica and NPR that their doctors and nurses were often slow to recognize the warning signs that their bodies weren't healing properly.


Focus On Infants During Childbirth Leaves U.S. Moms In Danger

NPR 5/12/2017

NPR and ProPublica collaborated on a six-month long investigation into maternal mortality in the US, finding that under the assumption that it had conquered maternal mortality, the American medical system has focused more on fetal and infant safety and survival than on the mother's health and well-being.


Black Maternal Health Matters

Ebony 9/21/2016

While maternal mortality continues to rise at an alarming rate in the US, black mothers are disporortionately affected creating both a reproductive and social issue.



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