Statement of Need
More than 700 women die each year in the United States from problems related to pregnancy or delivery complications. Every death is a tragedy, especially when we know that two-thirds of pregnancy-related deaths could be prevented. As many as 50,000 women experience severe, unexpected health problems related to pregnancy that may have long-term health consequences. 1
The Kansas maternal mortality rate of 14.8 (2014 to 2018) is 29.8% higher than the Healthy People 2020 goal of 11.4 maternal deaths per 100,0000 live births (follows the World Health Organization definition). 2 This has necessitated the need to conduct maternal mortality reviews to gain insight into the medical and social factors leading to these events and to prevent further occurrences. In 2018, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) established the Kansas Maternal Mortality Review Committee (KMMRC).
From its 2016 to 2018 case reviews, the following has been determined:
- One in four deaths of women during or within one year of pregnancy were determined to be pregnancy-related (13 deaths, 22.8%). This translated to a pregnancy-related mortality ratio (PRMR) of 11 deaths per every 100,000 live births that occurred in Kansas.
- 12 (92.3%) of the 13 deaths were preventable with 7 deaths (58.3%) showing a good chance of prevention and 5 deaths (41.7%) had some chance.
Disparities in Pregnancy-Related Deaths
- Racial and ethnic minorities were disproportionately affected. About two-thirds (8 deaths, 61.5%) were racial and ethnic minorities and 5 deaths (38.5%) were non-Hispanic white women.
- Nearly two-thirds (8 deaths, 61.5 %) had either completed high school or general educational development (GED) or had less education than high school.
- Less than half (6 deaths, 46.2 %) had private insurance; others had Medicaid, no insurance, or unknown insurance status.
Contributing Factors or Circumstances Surrounding the Deaths
- Obesity contributed to more than half of the deaths (7 deaths, including 1 additional probably contributed, 53.8%)
- Mental health conditions contributed to about one in 13 deaths (1 death, 7.7%)
- Substance use disorder contributed to nearly one in four deaths (3 deaths, 23.1%)
For more information on the KMMRC findings, view the annual report, summary, and infographics.
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). HEAR HER Campaign. Content source: National Center Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Reproductive Health. Last reviewed March 24, 2021. Retrieved online.
2 Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Federally Available Data (FAD) Resource Document. July 2, 2020; Rockville, MD: Health Resources and Services Administration. National Outcome Measure 3 - Maternal mortality rate per 100,000 live births.