Philadelphia announces initiative gathering severe childbirth data


A new Philadelphia initiative was developed to lower cases of severe childbirth complications.

The city of Philadelphia has announced its initiative to gather data on severe childbirth complications.

The initiative was approved in January 2023 by Philadelphia’s Board of Health and aims to lower the instances of severe complications during and after childbirth. Under the initiative, hospitals are required to share detailed information on pregnancy, delivery, and parent health for patients with severe complications in childbirth.

Philadelphia will be the first city in the United States to adapt this approach, according to Philadelphia Department of Public Health. Data gathering from all hospitals and delivery will begin later this year.

The most recent data shows a rise in maternal mortality of 28% from 2011 to 2014 in Philadelphia. This is higher than the national rise in maternal morbidity. The data is almost a decade old, and the city’s stale data is one of the issues which will be addressed by the new data-gathering program.

Maternal mortality is often a focus for hospitals, but there are 70 to 80 cases of severe childbirth complications per maternal death in Philadelphia. Complications during childbirth include problems with anesthesia, abnormal blood clotting, heart conditions, and kidney failure.

After childbirth, complications such aspulmonary embolisms, cardiomyopathy, and postpartum depression may occur.According to city health officials, the risk of maternal morbidity is twice as high in Black, non-Hispanic patients.

Birthing parents who are given intensive care admissions, blood transfusions, and have long hospital stays will be tracked in the surveillance program, alongside those readmitted within 30 days after discharge. The gathering of data in real time will lead to a nimbler public health response, according to officials.

Aasta Mehta, a health department physician running the surveillance program, believes the program will be a vital source of evidence for bolstering the case for policy changes, potentially lowering instances of maternal morbidity and death.


Laughlin J. Philly first city to track instances of severe childbirth complications in real time. The Philadelphia Inquirer. April 4, 2023. Accessed April 5, 2023.

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