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Mother and baby after delivery. Photo: Tom Adriaenssen, WikiCommons.

Missouri taking steps to reduce maternal deaths

Missouri, which has one of the highest rates of pregnancy-related deaths in the nation, is investing in a comprehensive maternal mortality prevention plan

An average of 70 Missouri women died while pregnant or within one year after giving birth between 2018 and 2020, Fox 4 News reported. Nearly 85 percent of these deaths were preventable, according to the Missouri Hospital Association.

But it is not just a problem in Missouri or even the Midwest. The rate of maternal deaths in the U.S. is higher than any other industrialized nation at 32.9 deaths per 100,000 deliveries in 2021. That was almost 40% higher than 2019.

“Maternal mortality rates in Missouri are not great,” the association’s Renee Wilde said. “We are well below the national average, and we know that’s something we need to improve on.”

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Last week, a new law went into effect that extends Medicaid coverage for new moms four up to one year after the baby is born. The legislation is estimated to help more than 4,200 new moms a year.

“We know that health-care access is critical and if you don’t have insurance, you probably are a lot less likely to receive prenatal care to continue seeking care postpartum and really getting those conditions treated,” Wilde said.

The state also is spending more than $4.35 million to create a maternal mortality prevention plan. In addition, the General Assembly funded four recommendations centered around improving the state’s maternal mortality:

  • Provide funding for a statewide perinatal quality collaborative;
  • Establish and fund a statewide perinatal health access project to aid health-care providers in providing evidence-based mental health care, including substance use disorder treatment;
  • Extend Medicaid coverage to one year postpartum for all conditions, even if the woman did not start treatment before delivery; and
  • Fund Medicaid expansion.

“I think that’s why we did the appropriations this year. It’s one of the largest investments in really trying to change the need in that,” Parson said. “Now just to go out there and kind of talk about it but how do we really help those moms and those babies out there to make sure we save lives.”

Wilde says it will take years for Missouri to improve from having the 12th-highest maternal mortality rate in the nation.

“I would say it’s shocking that we’re not seeing some sort of improvement,” she said. “You would think with modern medicine and better access to care that we would be seeing slight improvements. We really are optimistic that with all of these programs that are being put in place, the funding and the legislation that we will start to see that needle move in a positive direction.”

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice

Photo: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.


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