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Missouri maternal mortality report reveals impacts of mental health and racial disparities

Camylla Battani
Missouri's maternal mortality report from 2017-2019 found most of maternal deaths were preventable through a variety of intervention methods.

One of the key goals of Missouri’s maternal mortality report is to "prevent future instances of maternal mortality." Within the report, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, on behalf of the state's Pregnancy-Associated Mortality Review board, found discrepancies in socioeconomic class (level and type of insurance), education level, geographic location and race and ethnicity.

Each year, 61 people on average die during or one year after pregnancy. This is an increase compared to past years.

A stark racial disparity exists for Black Missourians, who are three times more likely to die within one year of pregnancy than white Missourians.

The ratio for Hispanic Missourians and other underrepresented groups did show a significant disparity, but DHSS cautions that the numbers should be “interpreted with caution" because of the low population size.

The report also shows all pregnancy-related deaths due to mental health conditions during that timeframe were preventable if more resources were available; mental health was the leading underlying cause of death, followed by cardiovascular disease.

It did separate between pregnancy-related and non-pregnancy related deaths. Of the pregnancy-related, the report found 75 percent of all deaths due to conditions of pregnancy were preventable.

As for non-pregnancy related deaths, the report included instances like poisoning and vehicle collisions and other forms of violence. Black Missourians still have a higher ratio than that of white Missourians to die of a circumstance like this.

The department recommends increased mental health services, raising prevention awareness activities, increasing insurance access and addressing factors leading to non-pregnancy related maternal mortality like combating gun violence.

To see the report in its entirety, click here.

Kassidy Arena is the Engagement Producer for KBIA. In her role, she reports and produces stories highlighting underrepresented communities, focuses on community outreach and promoting media literacy. She was born in Berkeley, California, raised in Omaha, Nebraska and graduated with a degree in Journalism at the University of Missouri, Columbia.
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