motherSPRINGFIELD – After the second edition of the Illinois Maternal Morbidity and Mortality Report revealed that Black women die at disparately high rates due to medical causes, State Senators Cristina Castro (D-Elgin), Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) and Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) are calling for better outcomes for Black mothers.

“These patterns of disparity and negligence must be identified, so that we know how to eradicate them,” Van Pelt said. “Reports like these are necessary in order to impact legislation, which, thankfully, my colleagues and I have already been working to combat the issue of Black maternal mortality.”

The report, released by the Illinois Department of Public Health, builds on the work of the Maternal Mortality Review Committee and Maternal Mortality Review Committee for Violent Deaths, which was captured in Illinois’ first report on maternal morbidity and mortality and released in 2018.  That report covered deaths that occurred in 2015, and the new report covers deaths from 2016-2017. 

The goal of the second report is to continue identifying statewide patterns in maternal health and providing recommendations to prevent maternal mortalities and morbidities. Additionally, this report expands the discussion to include factors that play a role in maternal health and contribute to the health disparities and inequities observed in Illinois’ maternal health outcomes.

“These trends are unacceptable, which is why the recent health care reform we passed is so necessary,” Hunter said. “Expanding Medicaid to cover doula services is beyond important, and can make the difference in decreasing the disparities found in this report.”

Among a number of other findings, the report found that Black women continue to die at higher rates due to medical causes. White women were more likely to die from pregnancy-related mental health conditions.

“The IDPH report on maternal morbidity and mortality has done a lot to inform our work on providing Black and Brown mothers the support they need to keep themselves and their babies healthy,” Castro said. “While the health care reforms led by the Black Caucus this past year and the recent expansion of Medicaid for new mothers are a good start, I am determined to keep up my work to reduce the number of preventable postpartum deaths in Illinois.”

The full report can be found at www.dph.illinois.gov/mmmr.

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