State looking to reduce number of preventable maternal deaths

Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 7:40 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 30, 2022 at 9:27 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - New information from the state reveals more than 55% of deaths among pregnant women who delivered could have been prevented. The Alabama Maternal Mortality Review Committee has been looking at data since 2018, but mothers like Tegan Frazier are living through the statistics.

“Something is causing the pain. So you need to find out what it is because I don’t want to lose my son,” said Frazier.

But unfortunately, she did. In January of this year, Fraizer and her loved ones held a balloon ceremony for her son IJ, but she says she’s blessed to still be here.

“It could have gone a different way,” said Frazier. “And it could have been both me and my son.”

Not every pregnant woman with complications has the same outcome. The state’s maternal mortality review committee looked at 80 maternal deaths from 2016 to 2017 and found over 55% were preventable.

“We need to identify those factors and how we can prevent those,” said Dr. Wes Stubblefield with the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Stubblefield explained that multiple factors contribute to maternal mortality, and the committee detailed recommendations for families, doctors and even legislators.

“Limitations of the way our insurance is set up in our state, particularly Medicaid, substance use disorders, in pregnancy,” said Stubblefield.

“Talking through what does it mean to be a woman who is in one of our maternity care deserts,” said Dr. Marth Wingate with UAB School of Public Health.

This map shows how maternal health care providers have disappeared in the state.

This map shows where maternal health care providers have disappeared in the state.
This map shows where maternal health care providers have disappeared in the state.(Alabama Department of Public Health)

That’s only part of what $1 million awarded to UAB will address through the maternal health innovation project.

“This is all of our collective efforts,” said Wingate.

An effort to help women like Frazier and others who’ve had an even worse fate.

“I have an urn upstairs for him as well, along with some other things,” said Frazier. “So I’m thankful that I at least got that.”

Fraizer hopes more advocacy for women, especially Women of Color comes from the state’s renewed focus on maternal health care.

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