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Report: Maternal deaths are on the rise in Mississippi



Pregnant woman

The Mississippi Maternal Mortality Review Committee has released a report on deaths from 2016 through 2020. The independent group, established in 2017, reviews maternal deaths to find opportunities for improvement and make recommendations to prevent future deaths in the state.

Some startling statistics include 80 percent of pregnancy-related deaths in Mississippi were deemed preventable, and 92 percent had some level of opportunity to alter the final outcome (death).

“This report shows that in 2020, Black, non-Hispanic women had a pregnancy-related mortality rate that is four times higher than White, non-Hispanic women. That’s why the Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies program at MSDH is our top priory. We offer care management and home visits for expectant moms and infants at risk for health problems. Losing one mother is too many,” said Dr. Daniel Edney, State Health Officer, Mississippi State Department of Health.

The death investigations are a stark reminder of the challenges that pregnant women face in Mississippi.

According to the report, cardiovascular disease and hypertension are the top contributors to maternal mortality, but it “also illuminates a troubling trend of pregnancy-associated death related to mental illness, substance abuse, homicide, and suicide. It is imperative to ensure timely identification, referral, and treatment for those with mental health needs. Thoughtful integrative strategies to lower the burden of mental health, substance abuse, and gun violence will be key to reducing to maternal death from these causes.”

Nationally, the maternal mortality rate has been increasing as well. In 2020, it rose to 23.8, and in 2021 to 32.9 per 100,000 live births.

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