CDC awards Pennsylvania $2.25 million grant to study maternal mortality
Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration announced Tuesday it has received a $2.25 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the cause of maternal deaths in the state after an increase in recent years.
Officials said the state Department of Health will receive the grant over five years. It will allow the department to hire more staff to coordinate and manage the Pennsylvania Maternal Mortality Review Committee, collect and analyze data and conduct reviews of pregnancy associated deaths.
“It’s imperative that we continue to take immediate action to determine the reasons for these deaths and to develop prevention recommendations,” Wolf said in a press release.
From 2012-2016, there was an increase in maternal deaths with 11.4 deaths per 100,000 live births in Pennsylvania, officials said.
The maternal mortality review committee reviews all pregnancy-associated deaths in the commonwealth, regardless of cause of death. Pregnancy-associated deaths are the death of a woman during pregnancy, or up to one year after pregnancy, regardless of the outcome of the pregnancy. This includes drug-related deaths, homicides and suicides.
The committee determines if the death was related to the pregnancy, identifies contributing factors, determines if the death could have been prevented and makes recommendations to prevent future deaths.
Money will also go toward the Philadelphia Maternal Mortality Review Committee so it can access resources needed to combine its efforts with the state Department of Health’s.
“Improving health during pregnancy and the postpartum period is essential for the well-being of mothers, infants, families and communities,” said state Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine.
According to the state Department of Health, in both the United States and Pennsylvania, there are racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health and maternal mortality. In Pennsylvania, African American women are three times more likely to die during or after pregnancy than white women.
According to the CDC, the cause of death for pregnancy-related deaths include hemorrhage, infection or sepsis, amniotic fluid embolism, thrombotic pulmonary or other embolism, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, anesthesia complications, cerebrovascular accidents or accidents related to the brain, cardiomyopathy, other cardiovascular conditions and other non-cardiovascular medical conditions.
Most pregnancy-related deaths occur after pregnancy, the CDC said. Among these deaths nationally, 31% occur while pregnant, 36% occur at delivery or in the week after, and 33% occur one week to one year after pregnancy.