General Assembly passes legislation ordering review of maternal mortality

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Both the House and Senate have passed a bill that would ramp up the state’s surveillance of maternal mortality.

The legislation, sponsored by Del. Roxann Robinson, R-Chesterfield, establishes the maternal mortality review team and tasks the Department of Health with reviewing the rate of pregnancy-related deaths in Virginia.

It also requires the team to identify factors that could contribute to maternal mortality and develop prevention and intervention recommendations.

The team will have to compile data on maternal deaths every three years and report it to the governor and General Assembly.

“Above all, this will go a long way to reducing our maternal mortality rate,” Robinson said in a news release.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 700 women die in the U.S. due to pregnancy or delivery complications every year. Another 50,000 suffer severe injuries.

Women in the United States are more likely to die from childbirth or pregnancy-related causes than other women in the developed world, the CDC says.

“Research suggests that half of these deaths are preventable,” the agency says.

And the risk of pregnancy-related deaths for black women is three to four times higher than those of white women.

“Sadly, too many mothers are dying from preventable childbirth complications and many more suffering severe injuries during childbirth,” Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, said in a statement. “This legislation will strengthen our healthcare system and protect mothers.”

From The Bulletin, the Mercury’s blog, where we post quick hits on the news of the day, odds and ends and commentary.

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Katie O'Connor
Katie, a Manassas native, has covered health care, commercial real estate, law, agriculture and tourism for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond BizSense and the Northern Virginia Daily. Last year, she was named an Association of Health Care Journalists Regional Health Journalism Fellow, a program to aid journalists in making national health stories local and using data in their reporting. She is a graduate of the College of William and Mary, where she was executive editor of The Flat Hat, the college paper, and editor-in-chief of The Gallery, the college’s literary magazine.