A bill to create a maternal mortality review committee passed a House committee this week. It seeks to determine the reason for Indiana's high maternal mortality rate – when a mother dies during pregnancy or in childbirth.
These rates are on the rise in many states, including Indiana. Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg) proposed a bill this session to investigate the cause.
"Our death rate for moms having babies in our state is twice that of the national average," says Leising.
The bill would create a review committee made up of health officials, hospitals and providers to review cases to determine and document the cause of death.
OBGYN Mary Abernathy says many doctors say bleeding and stroke are leading causes, but other states found cardiovascular complications are more prevalent.
"We suspect this may be the case in Indiana," says Abernathy. "Our goal is to use this data to form a strategy and provide recommendations to improve the care and prevent maternal mortality in Indiana."
Indiana Minority Health Coalition’s Paul Hannom says rates are even higher for African American women, with a number of contributing factors.
"Gestational diabetes, unintended pregnancies, unmarried mothers and four or fewer prenatal visits," says Hannom.
The proposal would require reporting of cases and also provide immunity to providers involved in the cases.
Some estimates find, nationally, more than 600 women die in childbirth each year. The CDC estimates more than half of these deaths are preventable.