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Maternal mortality data in Illinois released

Mental health conditions, including substance use disorder, were the leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths.
Published: Apr. 29, 2021 at 1:34 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - The Illinois Department of Public Health released the state’s Maternal Morbidity and Mortality Report on Thursday.

The report is the culmination of work by two maternal mortality review committees and IDPH and addresses maternal deaths, the causes, whether the deaths were directly related to pregnancy, if they were preventable, and recommendations to prevent future deaths.

Maternal mortality can be broken down into two deaths. Pregnancy-associated death is the death of a woman while pregnant or within one year of pregnancy from any cause. Pregnancy-related death is the death of a woman while pregnant or within one year of pregnancy from a cause related to pregnancy, IDPH said.

The Illinois Department of Public Health supports two Maternal Mortality Review Committees, which identify cause of death , determine if the death was pregnancy-related, determine if the death was preventable and develop recommendations to prevent deaths.

The data revealed an average of 75 women die each year while pregnant or within one year of pregnancy, that is one death every five days. About 1 in 3 pregnancy-associated deaths were pregnancy-related. Mental health conditions, including substance use disorder, were the leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths. More than 4 out of 5 pregnancy-related deaths were preventable, IDPH said.

Black women are most likely to die from pregnancy-related causes. Black women are about three times as likely to die from a pregnancy-related condition as white women. Black women were also more likely to die from pregnancy-related medical conditions. White women were more likely to die from pregnancy-related mental health conditions.

One in three women died while pregnant, one in three women died during the first 2 months postpartum and one in three women died two or more months postpartum, IDPH said.

“Our unacceptable disparities in pregnancy related maternal mortality is not due to a woman being black it is not due to biological factors, instead it is due to systemic factors,” Dr. Robin L. Jones, Maternal Mortality Review Committee Chairperson said.

Jones said that racism is the leading cause of maternal deaths in Black women and is working toward bettering maternal equity with hospitals.

Maternal Mortality Reviews Committee Recommendations:

• Health insurance plans should reimburse for telehealth.

• The state should expand home visiting programs.

• Hospitals should provide training and resources to staff on racism, implicit bias, and stigma.

• Hospitals should establish policies to ensure appropriate treatment of women with substance use disorders and support opioid overdose prevention.

• Providers should ensure all women are discharged from the hospital with an early postpartum visit within three weeks of pregnancy.

• Providers should ensure women are connected to mental health services.

• Community-based organizations should educate women on the importance of getting prenatal care.

• All women should have an annual well-woman visit.

Illinois Maternal Morbidity and Mortality Report is available here.

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