A pair of Texas agencies won separate multi-million dollar grants from the U.S. government to help curb maternal death and illness in the state.
The Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee will be better able to study maternal deaths and share its findings with national researchers thanks to a $3 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).
“It’s exciting that we’ll be able to review cases much closer to real time and get a better idea of what’s affecting women’s health now,” said Manda Hall, MD, committee member and DSHS associate commissioner for community health improvement. “And the ability to securely store and more quickly analyze data about maternal deaths will allow us to create more effective initiatives to reduce deaths," added Dr. Hall, who also is a consultant to the Texas Medical Association's Committee on Reproductive, Women's, and Perinatal Health.
Meanwhile, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services won an $18.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through its Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program. The grant is designed to provide resources and skills to pregnant women and families, particularly those considered at-risk, to raise healthy children, HHS said
Texas had a maternal death rate of 14.6 per 100,000 live births for 2012, the last year for which data is available, according to the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force and DSHS Joint Biennial Report in September 2018.
That put Texas near the national average of 15.9 per 100,000 for 2012, as reported by CDC. However, the U.S. rate is alarmingly high compared with other developed countries — and it’s climbing. Also, Texas' rate is much higher for some demographic groups. For instance, the rate for black women was 27.8 per 100,000.
The 2019 Texas Legislature added $7 million to the state budget to address maternal deaths, according DSHS. Those funds will let the agency expand its TexasAIM partnership with hospitals. TexasAIM works to reduce maternal deaths and complications from preventable causes.
DSHS also will use the state dollars to develop a tool to help health care professionals assess a woman’s risk for pregnancy complications and to create a campaign educating professionals and communities about the risk factors, the agency says.