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Maternal Health and Mortality In Missouri

Maternal health – the health of a woman from the time she becomes pregnant until one year postpartum – has an impact on the well-being of a woman’s family and community. Maternal mortality continues to pose a threat to Missouri women, and stakeholders are working hard to improve maternal health care and outcomes for pregnant women.

Maternal health matters – and affects all Missourians. We all have a stake in ensuring pregnant women have access to health care services and resources that can help prevent pregnancy-related complications and death.

What is maternal mortality?

Maternal mortality is defined as the death of a woman during pregnancy, childbirth or within the first year postpartum.

Maternal morbidity is a term used to describe pregnancy-related conditions that may directly cause maternal deaths and/or have a significant impact on a woman’s short- or long-term health.

Who is most affected?

Research shows that the following populations are at a higher risk of pregnancy-related complications and death.

  • Black women
  • Women on Medicaid
  • Women who live in rural areas
  • Women who have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, including substance use disorder
  • Women who are more than 40 years old
  • Women who have late entry into prenatal care

How does Missouri’s maternal mortality rate compare to other states?

Missouri’s maternal mortality rate has increased since the early 2000s, and is double the national average.

What is being done to improve?

Organizations across Missouri are working to prevent pregnancy-related deaths. A few of these initiative include –

  • Missouri continues to see growth of maternal care deserts — 53 counties are currently deemed maternal care deserts. Increasing use of telehealth services provides opportunity to close the gap on access to care; however, ongoing investments in broadband infrastructure and internet access are critical to success. Additionally, eliminating barriers to expanding the health care workforce in maternal care deserts could improve maternal health outcomes in these areas.
  • MO AIM encourages hospital emergency departments and clinics to utilize the severe hypertension management algorithm to identify perinatal-related cardiovascular issues and make life-saving referrals.
  • MO PQC, MC LAN support achieving birth equity. Programming to develop knowledge and competency in equity centered trauma informed care, anti-racism, and reduction of stigma/implicit bias are central to all quality improvement collaboratives.
  • MO PQC, MC LAN support recommendations to screen for mental health conditions throughout pregnancy and postpartum — including the big 4: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and suicidality. Stigma/implicit bias training can help destigmatize mental health conditions and normalize the conversation between patient and provider.
  • Through the CPPPSUD QI collaborative, hospitals and prenatal clinics are working to improve early screening and referral to recovery treatment services for pregnant women at-risk for substance use disorder. This work extends to partnering with Missouri’s Children’s Division to support Family Care Plans.
  • Implementing universal screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment for substance use disorders for all moms upon prenatal care initiation and birth admission can save lives. Pregnancy is a critical opportunity to engage patients in recovery treatment.

Where can I learn more?