Report: Black, Rural New Moms More Likely To Die After Pregnancy

By Benjamin Cox on May 3, 2021 at 9:50am

A new report from the Illinois Department of Public Health says that being black or living in a rural area as a pregnant woman means you are more likely to die after childbirth.

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Thursday issued its second report on maternal mortality rates in the state, which found there were 103 pregnancy-associated deaths in Illinois in 2017 — the highest number of any year in that decade. The report looked at deaths during or after pregnancy from 2016 to 2017, with 175 pregnancy-associated deaths logged during the two-year span.

The report, presented Thursday by IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, IDPH Deputy Director Shannon Lightner and Maternity Mortality Review Committee Chair Dr. Robin Jones, found that Black women were almost three times as likely to die within one year of pregnancy than white women. The number of maternal deaths per capita was also higher in rural regions of the state, and most of the deaths would have been preventable if the mothers had better access to health care.

Lightner told Illinois lawmakers that hospitals in the state need to more closely monitor women after childbirth for complications with hemorrhaging and post-partum mental and emotional issues: “Providers need to listen to and properly address a woman’s complaints. Hospitals can also benefit from adopting standardized hemorrhage protocols and ongoing hemorrhage education for all staff to ensure that any provider caring for pregnant or post-partum women can quickly identify and treat hemorrhage. And, it is especially important that providers seek consultation when prescribing, changing, or discontinuing antidepressants or other psychotropic medications during pregnancy; and that they ensure the patient is connected to mental health services in addition to medication therapy.”

Other recommendations made by the panel included healthcare coverage for telehealth services, making sure new moms have post natal visits scheduled before discharge from the hospital, and more post natal training to spot signs of both mental and physical complications for hospitals.