Michigan issues maternal mortality report; new plan to help state reach vision of zero preventable deaths, zero disparities


CONTACT: Lynn Sutfin, 517-241-2112

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recently issued a new maternal mortality report and is in the final stages of developing an improvement plan that will help the state achieve its vision of zero preventable deaths, zero disparities.

The recently released Maternal Deaths in Michigan, 2011-2015 report showed that between 2011 and 2015, there were 11.6 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. MDHHS found that black women were three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes at a rate of 27.7 deaths per 100,000 live births compared to white women at 8.1 deaths per 100,000 live births.

“Michigan health officials are paying close attention to the state’s maternal death rate,” said Dr. Eden Wells, MDHHS chief medical executive. “This new report provides data on maternal deaths, causes, steps the state has taken to address this issue and recommendations to further reduce deaths among Michigan women.”

A total of 66 deaths from 2011 to 2015 were identified as pregnancy-related. Pregnancy-related deaths are related to or aggravated by pregnancy or occur within one year of pregnancy. Based on the CDC preventability definition, 44 percent were determined to be preventable at some level. The most common causes were cardiomyopathy and infection/sepsis.

From 2011 to 2015, 273 deaths were identified as pregnancy-associated, not related; a rate of 47.9 per 100,000 live births. Pregnancy-associated, not related deaths are deaths that occur while a woman is pregnant or within one year of the end of a pregnancy due to a cause unrelated to pregnancy.

Almost half of these deaths were due to accidental drug overdoses, while 23 percent were due to motor vehicle accidents; 16 percent due to homicide and 11 percent due to suicide. Of the reviewed pregnancy-associated, not related deaths, 39 percent were determined to be preventable. 

To help continue addressing the state’s maternal deaths, MDHHS, the Maternal Infant Strategy Group, the Michigan Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (MI AIM) and local partners have collaborated to develop the 2019-2022 Mother Infant Health Improvement Plan (MIHIP). Five town halls were held to collect community input on the plan.

The MIHIP is currently being finalized and focuses on several interventions, including early prenatal care; tobacco/substance cessation; mental/ behavioral health screening and treatment access; and recommended birth spacing.

Another priority of the MIHP is adoption of MI AIM Obstetric Hemorrhage and Severe Hypertension in Pregnancy safety bundles developed by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). MI AIM and the Michigan Heath and Hospital Association are working together to implement maternal safety bundles in birthing hospitals throughout the state. These safety bundles help fully equip hospitals with actionable protocols, necessary equipment, staff education and drills to combat the leading causes of preventable maternal mortality.

Michigan was one of the first states to join ACOG’s AIM project in early 2016 and Michigan’s birthing hospitals are working to implement the hypertension and hemorrhage safety bundles. Hospital’s safety bundle implementation will be recognized at the March 2019 Mother Infant Health Summit

For more information on the Michigan Maternal Mortality Surveillance Program and the MI AIM initiative, visit Michigan.gov/mmms and Miaim.us.

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