For so long we have been focused on saving the lives of babies, that it seems we’ve allowed their most important life source to slip out of our fingers – their mothers. Maternal death rates are rising in Michigan, which is both sad and surprising, given that they are decreasing on a global scale. So what is wrong here? No one is quite sure, but perhaps Michigan’s new law which mandates tracking maternal deaths will help shed some light on the subject.
Wondering what maternal death is? Let’s clear that up before we get started. According to the World Health Organization, Maternal death is “the death of a woman while pregnant, or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes.”
The state has been collecting information on maternal death for years, but because up until now reporting it has been voluntary, they haven’t been able to form a very clear picture of what’s going wrong. That, however, may be about to change.
On April 6th a new law, passed in January of this year, makes the reporting of all maternal deaths in Michigan mandatory.
The Michigan Maternal Mortality Surveillance (MMMS) project, which is overseen by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, will be collecting this data and using it to help determine what is causing the rise of maternal deaths in Michigan
The goal is to determine what factors are contributing to the rising number of deaths here in Michigan, in an effort to effectively prevent them in the future. According to MDHHS, up to 100 Michigan women die every year, either during or shortly after pregnancy. To make it worse, this trend isn’t specific to Michigan, as US maternal mortality rates have been slowly rising for the last two decades
Public Act 479 of 2016 requires that doctors, or any individual in charge of a health facility who is aware of, or present for, a maternal death, must notify the state department. Information regarding the death must be submitted in a timely fashion, and in the manner approved by the department.
According to the MMMS, maternal mortality is “one of the basic health indicators that reflect a nationʹs health status.” If that is the case, then our nation has a lot of catching up to do. We can only hope that this project meets with success, and that the future of our state includes drastically reduced mortality rates for pregnant and new mothers. After all, what good are we doing if we strive to save the children, while turning our backs on their mothers.