GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - The National Center for Health Statistics reports pregnancy related deaths in the United States have increased, continuing a climbing trend that resulted in an overall average of 24 deaths per 100,000 births during the first year of the pandemic.
Looking further into the trend’s history, maternal mortality has more than tripled in the past 35 years.
For black mothers, the maternal death rate was almost triple the amount of that for white mothers.
“It’s very distressing,” said Vidant Medical Center OBGYN Dr. James DeVente. “I think a lot of us always try to look for one thing that we can fix to make it all go away and we realize, it’s not just one thing.”
After spending time with their own son in the NICU, the Seyler Family created a nonprofit called Cameron’s Care Packages and Houses driven to increase education and opportunity for struggling mothers across ENC.
“As parents, we’ve been there,” said John Seyler. “If you don’t know where your next meal is going to be or your next place to sleep, how are you going to be able to care for this child and be successful?”
861 pregnancy-related deaths were recorded in the United States in 2020.
While there is no cure-all currently known to prevent the mortality rate of mothers during pregnancy, childbirth, or one year after birth, DeVente says Vidant Medical Center is working on a long term platform to decrease some of the contributing factors.
“What we have to do instead of trying to find a silver bullet that’s going to make this all go away is to basically have a multi-fork plan that will kind of capture all the things that we know are involved,” said Devente.
Addressing rising rates of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease is all included in the plan of attack to lower birth risks.
The hospital network is focusing on how to integrate education, collaboration, and standardization in every visit.
“I want to be able to the moms provide healthy meals for them and their babies,” said Lynn Seyler. “We’ll be transporting the moms to doctor’s appointments to make sure they get there and then to school and work.”
The Seyler Family follows suit to keep their community supported.
Researchers are looking into the wide reach the pandemic could have on this data.
Not only could COVID infection play a role in the trend directly, but at the start of the pandemic, mothers across the country felt hesitancy going into their doctors’ offices, trying to avoid infection.
Health professionals now work to rewrite that thought by encouraging expecting mothers to be seen by their doctors early and often.
Preventative prenatal care can help decrease birth mortality. At Vidant doctors have decreased the preterm delivery rate by more than 20 percent for infants born before 37 weeks within the last 10 years.