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Arkansas has the highest national rates of maternal mortality



Little Rock, Arkansas – Healthcare professionals and public health experts convened by the Arkansas Black Philanthropy Collaborative to deliberate on promoting maternal health and preserving the lives of women around the state.

The state of Arkansas has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the entire nation. In addition, in only the last 20 years, the rate of maternal deaths among Black women has more than doubled.

The purpose of this event is to raise awareness of the maternal health issues and efforts that have gone on over the past several years, particularly over the past few years,” said William Greenfield, professor of obstetrics gynecology at UAMS. “To bring attention to maternal health and help improve outcomes.

Five leading maternal and infant mortality causes:

• Congenital malformations
• Preterm birth & low birthweight
• Sudden infant death syndrome
• Injury
• Maternal pregnancy complications

I want to just encourage women to not suck it up and act as if they’re okay but to use their voice to speak to what is going on and to begin planning for a healthy pregnancy today,” said Rhonda Mattox, president of the Arkansas Medical, Dental and Pharmaceutical Association. “Don’t wait until you’re pregnant to plan for it, take supplements, prenatal vitamin supplements, talk to your doctors about the medications you’re on that may be harmful to your baby today.

Ways to reduce disparities in women’s maternal health and infant mortality:

• Identify risks and must-address factors (both clinical & non-clinical)
• Access to health care services before and after birth
• Quality of Clinical Care
• Effects of Structural Racism
• Social Determinants of Health

The significance is, that maternal mortality impacts Arkansas women in a very adverse way,” said Mattox. “We are like third war country survivors as it relates to that. So we want to amplify the message that our health matters, to listen to women, and to understand that they need to use their voice as well. So we want legislators to become aware of this but we also want everyday women to understand that their voice matters and to use it.

The Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act and the Data Mapping to Save Mom’s Lives Act are two maternal initiatives that have already resulted in law. The Preventing Maternal Deaths Reauthorization Act of 2023 and the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act are two other acts that are being introduced.

The Prematurity Research Expansion and Education for Mothers who deliver Infants Early (PREEMIE) Reauthorization Act is another act that was introduced this year and it aims to reduce infant mortality and preterm delivery by funding federal grants and research.

We began with a Maternal Mortality review committee that was formed out of legislation in 2019,” said Greenfield. “Since that time there has been a number of efforts that have come online: Formation of prenatal quality collaboratives, formation of a maternal health task force, as well as other grants that have gone to various institutions across the state all with the same goal to raise the quality of care and improve maternal health for the citizens of Arkansas.


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