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A recent report from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics found that the number of maternal deaths rose 14% nationally during the pandemic. We also know that an average of 75 Illinois women died while pregnant or within one year of pregnancy each year during 2008-2017, according to the most recent data available from The Illinois Department of Public Health. 

Not all women are at equal risk of dying, however. Black women are about three times as likely to die from a pregnancy-related condition as white women in Illinois.

We know that 60% of all maternal deaths in this country are preventable and there are programs that offer proven solutions to help improve maternal health. Here in Illinois, the national Nurse-Family Partnership ® program provides a trusted nurse for expectant mothers to help identify medical conditions and mitigate the risk factors that can lead to maternal death. Having a nurse there at the critical moment to identify warning signs of preeclampsia, for example, could be life saving for both mother and her baby.

As currently funded, Nurse-Family Partnership is only able to serve less than 5% of the 24,000 eligible families in the state. With increased funding to home visiting services, programs like Nurse-Family Partnership can reach more expectant mothers and expand in new counties.

More should be done for Illinois families, especially for those affected by racial and economic inequality.

Investing in keeping mothers’ healthy also means investing in our state’s children, and in turn, investing in our future.

It’s time for Illinois to do a better job of reducing inequities in our health care system. That’s why I am supporting an increase in the state budget for home visiting programs through the Department of Human Services fund.