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Ways and Means Launches Investigation Into Rising Death Rates Among Mothers During and After Childbirth

October 10, 2018

Washington, D.C. – What do Afghanistan, Sudan, and the United States all have in common? They are the only countries in the world where the maternal mortality rate is on the rise, according to recent studies by the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM).

Compared to 30 years ago, AIM’s report finds that women giving birth in the U.S. are more at risk of dying than their mothers were. Even more alarming is a considerable racial disparity: African American women are three to four times more likely to experience pregnancy-related deaths than Caucasian women.

In light of this report, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), and Health Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam (R-IL) have launched an investigation to determine why maternal mortality and morbidity rates are rising in America and what federal agencies, states, and hospitals are doing and can do to address this issue.

Upon announcement of this investigation, Chairman Brady, Chairman Jenkins, and Chairman Roskam released the following statement:

“Bringing a new baby into this world should be one of the most exciting and rewarding times in a woman’s life. It is absolutely unacceptable that preventable failures are the cause of avoidable, unnecessary, and absolutely tragic deaths. America needs to be the health care leader of the world, and women across the country need to know they will be safe and in good hands while giving birth. With this investigation, we are committed to finding out why these deaths are happening and where Congress can take action to not only prevent these deaths, but also reverse this trend.”

CLICK HERE to read the letter.

Background: Recent concerns have been raised that more women are dying from pregnancy-related complications in the U.S. than any other developed country. Every year in the U.S., more than 50,000 mothers are severely injured during or after childbirth and 700 die, many from preventable complications. 

Maternal mortality review committees from nine states found that approximately 63 percent of pregnancy-related deaths were preventable. For example, the causes of death or near-death in hospitals are often due to dangerously high blood pressure or significant blood loss, both of which can be monitored and mitigated. Federally funded research from AIM resulted in proposed hospital safety protocols. While some hospitals have voluntarily adopted these protocols to try to address the causes of maternal mortality, others have not.

If you want to learn more about this issue, CLICK HERE to read a July 2018 report by USA Today.