IDPH releases maternal morbidity and mortality report for 2018-2020
CHICAGO, Ill. (KFVS) - The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) released their third edition of the Illinois Maternal Morbidity and Mortality Report on Wednesday, October 25.
The report covers maternal deaths occurring for Illinois residents during 2018 through 2020.
According to IDPH, the key findings of the study are that Black women continue to die at disparately higher rates and that the leading overall cause of pregnancy-related death is substance use disorder. The deaths were also attributed to medical causes including cardiovascular disease and pre-existing chronic medical conditions.
“This third edition of the maternal morbidity and mortality report underscores that Illinois still has a long way to go towards ensuring that all Illinoisans can have a safe and healthy pregnancy,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra in a released statement. “We continue to see unacceptable inequities in maternal mortality for Black women and women with lower socioeconomic status. Furthermore, substance use disorders are the leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths, demonstrating the continued devastating impact of the opioid crisis. Areas of progress are being made, but the report is an acknowledgment that more needs to be done. I encourage all of our partners to come together to achieve the goal of making Illinois the healthiest state to give birth.”
IDPH said the report showed an average of 88 pregnancy-associated deaths occurred in Illinois during the three years, with the highest number of deaths, 110, taking place in 2020.
Researchers looked at both pregnancy-associated deaths and pregnancy-related deaths.
Deaths occurring during pregnancy or within one year of pregnancy are considered pregnancy-associated deaths.
Females who would not have died if they were not pregnant are considered pregnancy-related deaths.
This report is also showing the first glimpse of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on pregnancies and postpartum in Illinois. Researchers say the next report will cover the full scope of the pandemic.
IDPH said the following are key findings in the third edition report:
- An average of 88 women died while pregnant or within one year of pregnancy, with the highest number 110 deaths, occurring in 2020. There were 83 deaths in 2018 and 70 in 2019.
- 43% of women who died while pregnant or within one year of pregnancy died from a cause related to pregnancy.
- The leading cause of pregnancy-related death was substance use disorder, which comprised 32% of pregnancy-related deaths. The other most common causes of pregnancy-related death were cardiac and coronary conditions, pre-existing chronic medical conditions, sepsis, mental health conditions and embolism.
- Black women were twice as likely to die from any pregnancy-related condition and three times as likely to die from pregnancy-related medical conditions as white women.
- More than half of pregnancy-related deaths occurred more than 60 days postpartum.
- The Maternal Morbidity and Mortality Report Committee’s determined 91% of pregnancy-related deaths were potentially preventable due to clinical, system, social, community or patient factors.
Recommendations coming out of the report are the following:
- Health care providers should know and follow best practices for high-quality maternal health care in the following key areas that are critical for reducing maternal mortality: cardiovascular disease, obesity, mental health conditions, substance use disorder, trauma-informed care and contraceptive services.
- Hospitals and health systems should create protocols and practices to identify and to address social determinants of health.
- Hospitals and health systems should develop standardized protocols and policies to assure implementation of high-quality delivery of maternal mental health and substance use care.
- Community-based organizations should partner with clinical systems to ensure health care providers know about available local social services and case management programs for pregnant and postpartum women.
- State agencies should implement plans of safe care for infants exposed to substances during pregnancy, including implementation of a notification and tracking system that is separate from child abuse/neglect reporting systems.
In a released statement, IDPH said the number of maternal deaths is small, but there are more that suffer severe maternal morbidity, such as unexpected maternal conditions or complications that occur during labor and delivery that can have long-lasting heath issues.
The state health agency believes improving care for pregnant and postpartum women will address maternal mortality and improve overall maternal health outcomes.
All three of the Illinois Maternal Morbidity and Mortality reports can be found here on the IDPH Maternal Morbidity and Mortality page.
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