May. 09, 2018

By Rep. Ryan Mackenzie (R-Lehigh/Berks)
Did you know that more women in the United States die from pregnancy complications than in any other developed country in the world? It’s true. Despite advances in medicine and medical technologies, the U.S. saw a 26 percent increase in the death rate of expectant mothers from 2000-2014. And according to a 2016 report from America’s Health Rankings, based on Centers for Disease Control National Vital Statistics System data, Pennsylvania ranks 21st in the nation in maternal death rates.

In order to combat these tragic statistics, we need to be more proactive in our education of medical professionals and information sharing when it comes to preventable conditions like preeclampsia and obstetric hemorrhaging. In addition, we are finding that mental health conditions, including suicide and overdose, are also becoming a leading cause of maternal mortality in a growing number of states.

Pennsylvania mothers deserve better. That’s why I authored legislation, recently signed into law, that will establish a Maternal Mortality Review Committee within the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

The Maternal Mortality Review Committee will be charged with identifying pregnancy-related deaths, overseeing the review of these deaths, recommending actions to help prevent future deaths, and publishing review results. This information will then be used to help clinicians and public health professionals to better understand circumstances surrounding pregnancy-related deaths and to take appropriate actions to prevent them.

This idea to form a review committee was brought to me by a group of residents in my district who are members of the Pennsylvania Section of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

Currently, 32 states have maternal mortality review committees either in operation or in development.

The state of California is an example of the success of implementing a maternal mortality review committee. The California Pregnancy-Associated Mortality Review (CA-PAMR) identified cardiovascular disease, preeclampsia, and obstetric hemorrhage as the leading causes of pregnancy-related deaths and published its findings in a statewide report and peer-reviewed journals. With data readily available about what was contributing to the risks of maternal mortality, Stanford University’s California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative put together a series of toolkits to help guide hospitals in limiting complications and responding to emergencies.

Since its inception, California’s maternal mortality rate declined more than 55 percent from 2006-2013. In addition, 120,000 early births were prevented from 2009-2014, with an increase of 8 percent of births making it to full term.

I am thankful members of the ACOG brought this idea to my attention so that we can improve the health outcomes of expectant mothers in the Commonwealth.

Representative Ryan Mackenzie
134th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Tricia Lehman
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