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PCMS Member Corner: Preventing Maternal Deaths Act

Preventing Maternal Deaths Act

The death of a woman during pregnancy, at delivery, or soon after a delivery is a tragedy for her family and for society as a whole. In the U.S., maternal mortality, which is a death during or within one year of pregnancy, is unusually high at 23/100,000 live births when compared to other wealthy nations.

Many countries have halved their maternal death ratios in the past 20 years while the U.S. has seen rates triple from 8/100,000 in 1987 to 23/100,000 in 2023. Major disparities in race, geography and socioeconomic factors are contributors to these current statistics.

The Preventing Maternal Deaths Acts was first introduced in 2018, and was the first modern federal maternal mortality legislation signed into law. It was designed to establish a comprehensive framework to help every mom have a safe and healthy pregnancy and reduce preventable deaths.

Specifically, the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act established ERASE MMs (Enhancing Reviews and Surveillance to Eliminate Maternal Mortality) between the CDC and multidisciplinary state and local communities. It also assigned MMRC’s (Maternal Mortality Review Committees).

The Preventing Maternal Deaths Act expires later this year. To date, only one U.S. state fully participates in the program, 39 states fund the program and 11 states are not funded. Arizona is a funded participating state.

Studies between 2017-2023 have shown a shift in the underlying causes of maternal mortality, including cardiovascular disease, prior medical conditions, obesity and delayed childbearing. Eighty percent of these deaths were evaluated as being preventable if access to preconception, routine medical care and postpartum care had been available.

More than 60,000 women experience life-threatening morbidity every year, resulting in more than 700 pregnancy-related deaths annually in the U.S. Most maternal mortality cases occur in lower socioeconomic and urban settings, and are usually postpartum.

How can we prevent maternal deaths? We must encourage our congressional representatives to renew the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act. Learn more and tell Your Members of Congress to support the Preventing Maternal Deaths Reauthorization Act!

Written by Dr. Wendy Huempfner
August 2023


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