A state government committee has received more than $2 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study deaths associated with pregnancy.
The Pennsylvania Maternal Mortality Review Committee, created by a 2018 law, will use the $2.25 million grant to hire staff, collect data, and analyze the numbers. Some money will also go to a similar Philadelphia-based committee that studies maternal health.
The committee, which has its roots in legislation sponsored by Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, R-Lehigh, studies all maternal deaths before or up to a year after birth. The committee will determine if a death was related to pregnancy complications, if the death was preventable, and will make recommendations.
In 2016, 16 maternal deaths were reported to the state Department of Health — up from nine in 2011. But Dr. Stacy Beck, a member of the committee, previously told the Capital-Star that “no one really knows the total number of maternal deaths in [Pennsylvania] because we have never before recorded it any systematic manner.”
According to the CDC, about 700 women die from pregnancy complications each year, while three in five deaths are preventable. The rate is even higher for black women.
As a whole, the U.S. has the highest rate of maternal mortality of any developed nation in the world.
In a statement, Gov. Tom Wolf said the federal grant will be “extremely helpful” in his efforts “to determine the reasons for these deaths and to develop prevention recommendations.”