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Bill seeks study of maternal deaths


The Register-Herald

BECKLEY, W.Va. — U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito and Heidi Heitkamp have introduced legislation they hope will help stop the rate of maternal deaths in the country.

The goal of the bill is to boost resources to combat the problem by expanding maternal mortality review committees to study and address causes of maternal death cases to make pregnancies safe, according to the Friday news release.

“The number of women dying in this country due to pregnancy complications is staggering — especially when you compare it to every other developed nation,” Capito said in the news release. “Even worse is the sad fact that the number is growing. As a mother myself, I understand both the fears and the incredible joys that come with having a child. We absolutely have to get a handle on this problem and the Maternal Health Accountability Act will help us better understand and address it.”

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.

Capito and Heitkamp, D-N.D., hope by supporting existing committees and building resources in other states, lawmakers will be able to find out the causes of women dying from pregnancy complications.

“When women in the United States are dying from pregnancy complications more than any other developed nation, we’re dealing with a health crisis,” Heitkamp said in the news release. “There is no reason the United States should be the only industrialized country where maternal deaths are on the rise. That’s unacceptable, and we need to get to the bottom of why that’s happening — and fast — and find solutions.

“That’s exactly what our bipartisan bill would do,” Heitkamp went on to say in the release. “By expanding resources that work to study why pregnancy-related deaths are happening, we can better protect expecting mothers and families, and make sure they have access to the support, like rural hospitals, they need to for healthy pregnancies and to have healthy babies.”

According to a 2016 report from America’s Health Rankings, West Virginia ranked 10th in maternal mortality but ranked 44th in infant mortality, 38th in neonatal mortality and 45th in child mortality.

According to a 2013 DHHR report, in 2011, there were 12 pregnancy-associated maternal deaths and one death with medically-related cause classified as pregnancy-related.

The estimated maternal mortality rate for West Virginia in 2011 was 57 per 100,000. Drug abuse was the cause for eight of the maternal deaths in 2011. Two deaths were because of car or ATV accidents and one was homicide by gunshot, the report said.

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