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DHSS awarded CDC grant to improve maternal health


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. —  Missouri, which has one of the worst maternal mortality rates in the U.S., will be getting nearly $500,000 over the next several years to improve the health of pregnant women.  

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), through its Enhancing Reviews and Surveillance to Eliminate Maternal Mortality (ERASE MM) program, awarded the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) a five-year, $450,000 grant on Thursday.

In 2018, according to the United Health Foundation, Missouri rants No. 42 in the U.S. for maternal mortality — defined as deaths from any cause related to or aggravated by pregnancy or childbirth — with 32.6 deaths per 100,000 births. As a whole, the U.S. has one of the worst rates among industrialized nations, with 20.7 deaths per 100,000 births.

Missouri lawmakers recently established a Pregnancy-Associated Mortality Review (PAMR) in order to improve data collection and reporting of maternal deaths in Missouri. The board consists of 18 members, appointed by DHSS Director Randall Williams, from throughout the state who represent various specialties interacting and impacting maternal health.

The CDC grant funding will support agencies and organizations that coordinate and manage Maternal Mortality Review Committees to identify, review, and characterize maternal deaths and identify prevention opportunities.

“We are now able to analyze data in real time to assist with efforts, including public policies, which can prevent future maternal morbidity and mortality,” Ashlie Otto, PAMR coordinator with the DHSS Section for Women’s Health, said. 

“We are incredibly appreciative of all of our obstetrical thought leaders who have agreed to serve on our PAMR Board and who are actively engaged in collaborative efforts to improve maternal health in Missouri,” Williams said. “Enhanced coordination with our CDC colleagues through the maternal mortality review process will help us protect the health of mothers.”

In conjunction with the grant, the CDC visited Missouri DHSS this week to provide technical assistance to maternal mortality review staff and to meet with members of the PAMR Board.