Maternal Awareness Day in PA

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – A woman’s body undergoes all sorts of changes during and after pregnancy. Some of those changes can put a woman’s life in jeopardy. It’s why Wednesday was declared Maternal Health Awareness Day in Pennsylvania.

The U.S. has a higher rate of maternal mortality than any other developed country. Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller attended a news conference on Wednesday to learn more about work underway in Pennsylvania to curb those disturbing numbers.

“I present this with my best wishes and congratulations,” said Pennsylvania Senator Lisa Baker (R-20th) Wednesday afternoon as she presented a proclamation to Maternal and Family Health Services in Wilkes-Barre. The proclamation acknowledged the first official Maternal Health Awareness Day in the Commonwealth. Sen. Baker recently introduced it because of something that’s deeply disturbing. “The rates of mothers dying during childbirth or shortly thereafter increasing… an alarming trend,” she said.

Research reveals six in every ten maternal deaths in America are believed to be preventable. And for every death of a mom-to-be or new mom, 100 women experience what’s considered severe maternal morbidity “near misses”. Sen. Baker said, “We created a board to begin reviewing the data to look at the statistics and to determine how they can prevent it, how we can protect moms.” The state legislature recently established a Maternal Mortality Review Committee to examine root causes of maternal morbidity.

Commonwealth Health OB-GYN Physician Lynne Coslett-Charlton, MD is chair of the Pennsylvania section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists or ACOG for short. In discussing the startling number of maternal deaths she said, “A great number of them have to do with cardiovascular health. Hypertension disorders like preeclampsyia which is a disorder of pregnancy, stroke, cardiomyopathies.”

By better understanding maternal mortality, solutions may be found to provide hope for more new moms and moms-to-be. “This is really a great opportunity to look at what are those numbers. Look at communities and where the need may be and actually make appropriate interventions,” said Dr. Coslett-Charlton.

Just last month, federal lawmakers passed the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act. It supports and funds Maternal Mortality Review Committees in the 33 states that have them — including Pennsylvania whose committee held its first meeting this past October. Dr. Coslett-Charlton hopes what’s learned in Pennsylvania and other states benefits maternal women everywhere.      

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