CDC Awards Arizona $450,000 To Study Maternal Mortality

By Mariana Dale
Published: Wednesday, August 14, 2019 - 5:23pm
Updated: Wednesday, August 14, 2019 - 9:40pm
Mariana Dale/KJZZ
The baby blankets spread on the Arizona Capitol lawn in January 2019 by the March of Dimes represented newborns left without mothers in the state.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has awarded the Arizona Department of Health Services $450,000 a year for the next five years to study maternal deaths.

New moms in the United States die at higher rates than anywhere else in the developed world.

In Arizona, an average of 20 new moms die a year — 89% of those deaths are preventable, according to research from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

“While we’ve had the authority to do maternal mortality review since 2011 ... we haven’t had any dedicated funding to that at all,” said Sheila Sjolander, an assistant director for prevention services in the state’s health agency.

The effort relied on existing staff. Sjolander said the grant will pay to hire people who will analyze data and implement recommendations.

“That will be incredibly helpful to have somebody whose job it is to get up everyday and think about the health of moms and moms to be in the state,” Sjolander said.  

Legislation signed into law this summer requires an advisory committee to submit recommendations to improve how Arizona collects information about maternal deaths by the end of the year.

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