Tracking data on maternal mortality and morbidity should be a priority in Ohio

The Center for Community Solutions and other Ohio advocates have called for the prioritization of maternal health, at a level parallel to the focus on infant health in Ohio. Maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity (described as ‘near misses’) have increased nationally and due to delays in data collection and dissemination in Ohio it has been challenging to track, understand and respond to trends. For a description on data-specific definitions see our 2018 primer.

Similar to infant mortality, cases of maternal mortality and morbidity are preventable; they are not equally distributed among the population – there are disparities in who is impacted, with women of color being twice as likely to face these outcomes; and they can often reflect both gaps in clinical and social supports for women and their families. Unlike infant mortality, there is currently a lack of transparency around rates, preventability and trends over time for maternal deaths and related morbidity in Ohio.

Several legislators want to make improving surveillance for maternal mortality and morbidity in Ohio a priority. Minority Leader Emilia Sykes’ office hosted a listening session in January and is leading efforts in the House to pass comprehensive legislation on this topic; provisions for maternal mortality review were also in the governor’s proposed budget.

Similar to infant mortality, cases of maternal mortality and morbidity are preventable

Community Solutions testified last week on this and other budget priorities. In order to move Ohio forward, the state requires a codified review committee that is representative – meaning the committee includes jurisdictions and populations most impacted; timely data – which will require case reporting requirements and routine, preferably annual, reports to the community; and surveillance and reporting of maternal morbidity, because any of these cases could have ended in maternal death and we can learn from them.