The Washington State Department of Health’s (DOH) recent report found that 80% of pregnancy-related deaths were preventable.
Washington state legislature requires the DOH release maternal mortality reports every three years, with data collected between 2014-2020 for the 2023 Maternal Mortality Review Report.
Preventable deaths can be defined as an incident in which there was a possibility that death could have avoided if certain circumstances were changed or evaluated.
Out of the 224 pregnancies-related deaths, 97 could have been prevented.
The DOH discovered that suicide and overdose were the main causes of death in pregnancy.
Deborah Gardner, DOH Maternal Mortality Review Coordinator, stated that the number of pregnancies was higher among those who are under 30, on Medicaid recipients, in rural areas and for Indigenous women.
“All of these contributing factors were exacerbated by what we call the social and structural determinants of health,” Gardner explained. “Those are things like housing instability and systemic racism that impact people’s health, health care and wellbeing during pregnancy and postpartum, but also throughout their lives.”
Two main priorities were identified by the DOH. The first was to improve perinatal behavioral health and ensure that recommendations are made in the best interest of Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities (BIPOC).
The American Indian Health Commission recommended that Native-American pregnant persons have better access to health care and services that are culturally relevant to their needs. It also suggested that funding be increased and policies changed to address historical inequalities.
The commission pointed out that the DOH must address widespread distrust by the Native American community towards the healthcare systems, as a result of historical racial discrimination.
They recommended that more resources be allocated to food sovereignty in order to improve nutrition and food security on tribal lands. Additionally, they suggested creating a tribe-led workforce to support Indigenous pregnant women.
The full report is available here Here.
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Sometimes superstitions can give us hope, but sometimes they can lead us in the wrong direction. We talked to Dr. David Blann, Covenant Medical Group, about the top five myths about labor and birth. You should read the whole thing. I love his final comment. It must be true if it is said by a doctor!
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