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Women in the United States are unnecessarily dying from pregnancy-related complications, including preeclampsia, at a higher rate than women in 47 other countries. Together we can work to put an end to preventable maternal deaths, but the Preeclampsia Foundation needs your help!
Members of Congress need to hear from you and your family to understand why it is necessary to identify proactive solutions to ensure no more moms or babies die from preeclampsia or other complications of pregnancy. This legislation will support states in identifying the root causes of maternal death and severe morbidity. As a constituent, you have a powerful story to tell about your own experience, whether you have lost a loved one during the pre- or post-natal period, or whether your health and your baby's health were threatened by preeclampsia, eclampsia, or HELLP syndrome.
In March 2017, a bipartisan group of members of Congress introduced the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act of 2017. To move the bill forward we urgently need your help -- we must ensure your House Representative agrees to support and cosponsor the legislation. To get started, here's what you can do:
Personalize this draft template letter and EMAIL it (don't mail it) to the person you spoke with in the Congressional office. Email addresses in the House of Representatives are as follows: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Washington DC—The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Preeclampsia Foundation announce their endorsement of new bipartisan legislation introduced on March 2, 2017, that will allow states to address preventable maternal deaths and the devastating and costly health consequences that threaten the lives of moms and babies across the country.
The Preventing Maternal Deaths Act of 2017 (H.R. 1318) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Congressman Ryan Costello (R-PA), and Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO).
“We’re very pleased to provide joint leadership with ACOG for this effort and thank these members of Congress for introducing legislation that will drastically reduce maternal death and disability across the United States,” said Eleni Tsigas, executive director of the Preeclampsia Foundation.
The statistics on maternal death are staggering. The United States ranks 47th globally for its maternal mortality rate and the maternal death rate continues to rise despite major advancements in medical technology and treatments. The Preventing Maternal Deaths Act addresses the problem by recognizing that the first step forward is to tackle this national issue at the local level by helping states set up maternal mortality review committees (MMRCs).
“Our nation’s ob-gyns are extremely concerned by the alarming rates of maternal death in the United States, especially among communities of color, but we know MMRCs are a key component to reversing this trend,” said Thomas M. Gellhaus, MD, president of ACOG. “This legislation will allow us to understand what is driving these tragic incidents by providing the needed funding to create review committees that will collect standardized data in order to inform effective and cost-saving solutions that fit each community.”
The Preventing Maternal Deaths Act will support states in establishing or expanding their mortality review efforts and promote national information sharing through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention so they can continue to learn from each other and collaborate as needed.
“Prevention requires an understanding of the causes of women dying,” said Thomas Easterling, MD, director of the Preeclampsia Foundation’s Medical Advisory Board and professor of Maternal Fetal Medicine at the University of Washington. “Careful maternal mortality review identifies these causes and in doing so, identifies what actions states can take to address them. Without review, we do not acknowledge these women and the loss they represent to their families and communities. We dishonor their loss of life and miss the opportunity to protect their sisters and daughters.”
Recent studies have shown that at least 41 percent of maternal deaths were likely preventable and yet preeclampsia and other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy are still a leading cause of maternal and infant death and severe health consequences. Every year, up to 300,000 pregnant or postpartum women develop a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy, with approximately 75,000 of them suffering organ failure, massive blood loss, permanent disability, premature birth, or death and/or death of their babies. Congress consistently invests to reduce infant mortality. The same investment needs to be made to help save the lives of the nation’s mothers.
"'Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so.' This statement was made by the Renaissance scientist Galileo and remains true 450 years later. We cannot correct or establish priorities to prevent maternal mortality and morbidity unless we can identify targets by determining the magnitude of the problem. I was made abundantly aware of this when I chaired the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecology Task Force on Hypertensive Disorders in Pregnancy in 2013. We were fortunate to have access to a remarkable quantitative and descriptive summary of recent maternal mortality and morbidity from California. What was evident from this, which would not have been without this information, was that past efforts to have care providers carefully (and unfortunately rigidly) define the pregnancy hypertensive disorder, preeclampsia, had unintended consequences. Preeclampsia is the most serious (deadly) form of hypertension in pregnancy. It affects many organs of the body including the kidney with resulting leakage of protein into the urine. For over 100 years the presence of protein in the urine was used to separate preeclampsia from other less serious high blood pressure problems that did not mandate delivery – despite the knowledge that other organs could be affected. What the California information showed was that some care providers were rigidly demanding protein in urine in women with pregnancy hypertension and did not deliver women without this finding even if they were seriously ill with body organs other than the kidney involved. Based on this the Task Force changed the diagnosis of preeclampsia to be high blood pressure and protein in urine or evidence of other organs being involved. Lives are now being saved by this change. This problem, as well as many others, would not have been recognized without accurate determination of what leads to deaths of mothers in pregnancy – a family disaster that must be prevented."
James M. Roberts, MD, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Magee-Womens Research Institute
“Preeclampsia is one of the leading causes of maternal and neonatal complications. We are only beginning to understand the causes of preeclampsia, but recent studies have led to significant insight into the early pregnancy mechanisms that may be involved. When we understand the mechanisms, we can design intelligent interventions to prevent preeclampsia, which not only will improve the health of mothers and babies, it will also improve the long-term health of our population. Improving healthcare efficiency depends on major breakthroughs in research to prevent common diseases like preeclampsia."
Terry K. Morgan, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Pathology and Obstetrics & Gynecology, Oregon Health & Science University
“The death of a mother in childbirth cannot be a silent event. We desperately need a national committee to track trends in causes of death and to find any human error that might be corrected to prevent another tragedy.”
Kristina Adams Waldorf, MD, Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Washington
"As a physician, I lend my unconditional support to this bill which emphasizes the value of every woman's life. As a pediatrician, I advocate for not only the reduction in maternal mortality, but also the reduction in neonatal morbidity (i.e. prematurity) and mortality. I am confident that novel insights that link the etiology of preeclampsia to existing conditions with compromised renal perfusion (e.g., cardiorenal syndrome and obesity-related hypertension) are on the verge of revolutionizing prediction and prevention techniques for women vulnerable to this condition. Our collective efforts, advocacy, and resource allocation can only enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of our compassion-driven mission."
"For most women, pregnancy is a time of joy and expectations fulfilled by the safe birth of a child into an expanded family. Beneath this surface of successful motherhood are dangers to a woman’s life and health paralleled by dangers to the unborn and newborn child. Some women carry identifiable risk factors into a pregnancy associated with preexisting and identifiable medical conditions. Others enter pregnancy with the appearance of health only to develop rapidly accelerating conditions such as hypertension or postpartum hemorrhage resulting in their death. Many, if not most, of these deaths are preventable. Prevention requires an understanding of the causes of women dying. Careful maternal mortality review identifies these and in doing so identifies local community, state-by-state, action points. Without maternal mortality review we do not have appropriate action points for local communities. Without community review we do not see these women and the loss they represent to their families and communities. We dishonor their loss of life and miss the opportunity to protect their sisters and daughters."
Thomas R. Easterling, MD, Professor, Maternal Fetal Medicine, University of Washington
"One of the biggest challenges to understanding and reducing the U.S. maternal mortality rate is the lack of comprehensive data; standardized data collection will enable identification of specific issues that challenge maternal health, and will inform strategies to reduce both maternal and neonatal mortality."