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New state law requires deeper look at maternal deaths

| Thursday, May 10, 2018, 5:03 p.m.
Newborn baby with mother
Newborn baby with mother

A new panel will review maternal deaths in Pennsylvania with the goal of preventing the deaths in the future.

Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill Wednesday creating the Maternal Mortality Review Committee, created to tackle a problem that is getting worse in the United States, according to a news release from the bill's sponsor, Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, R-Lehigh.

There were 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births in the United States in 2014, up 26 percent from the rate in 2000, according to the news release. Thirty-two other states have created mortality review committees to try to tackle the problem, accompanying national efforts by the Centers for Disease Control.

“Anything we can do to improve the health and save lives of Pennsylvanians is a worthy cause I am committed to championing,” Mackenzie said in the release.

Pennsylvania ranks 21st among states in maternal mortality, according to a 2016 report from America's Health Rankings. Common causes of death for expectant mothers include preeclampsia and obstetric hemorrhage, while suicide and overdose are growing causes of maternal mortality.

The law Wolf signed calls for the creation of the panel in 90 days.

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