Having a baby is a time of joy, but it can also be a time of concern for the health and well-being of both baby and mom. While globally, maternal death rates have plummeted, the rates in the US have nearly doubled to 700 per year. Heart disease and stroke account for 1 in 3 of those deaths, so we believe that if we can bring down that number, we can potentially save the lives of mothers across the US.
These deaths are disproportionately impacting women of color and many could be preventable with a focused effort on where the issues are and what we can do to address it. In addition to implementing policies which support public health in lower socioeconomic communities, we also need to address the bias in medicine which make women of color more likely to have their concerns dismissed or ignored. It’s a concern in both urban and rural communities, with mothers in rural communities seeing a 9% increase in the probability of maternal death. We can provide science-based approaches to help turn these statistics around.
One policy change we believe is good step in the right direction is to extend post-partum medical coverage for Medicaid recipients to 12 months. Having a baby itself can raise your blood pressure, increasing the risk of preeclampsia, which increases the risk of a cardiovascular event during and even quite a while after birth. If we extend postpartum coverage to 12 months after delivery, mothers can get the medical care and support they need to ensure longer, healthier lives for new moms and a brighter future for their families.