D.C. Briefing on Maternal Mortality in Georgia

Author: HMHBGA Staff

On December 3, 2019 in Washington, D.C., Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia, the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP), and the Georgia OBGyn Society (GOGS) convened a Briefing on Maternal Mortality in Georgia. The purpose was to share the current data related to maternal mortality, how this crisis is being addressed at the State level, and what congressional leaders can do to help. Legislative staff attended from the offices of Senator David Perdue, Representative Lucy McBath, Representative John Lewis, Representative Buddy Carter, Representative David Scott, and Representative Rick Allen.

Findings from the 2014 Georgia Maternal Mortality Report were presented so attendees could better understand contributing factors and rates of maternal mortality. Georgia’s maternal mortality ratio for all causes of death is 64 deaths per 100,000 live births. Among the 250 maternal deaths that took place from 2012-2014, 40% (101) were from a cause related to or aggravated by pregnancy or its management (pregnancy-related). Sixty-eight percent of these pregnancy-related deaths were contributed to by the six leading causes of death: cardiomyopathy, cardiovascular and coronary conditions, hemorrhage, embolism, preeclampsia and eclampsia, and amniotic fluid embolism. Furthermore, Black non-Hispanic women are over three times as likely to die from a pregnancy-related death than White non-Hispanic women (47 vs 14.3 deaths per 100,000 live births).

Panelists also discussed the Georgia-based initiatives (established with the support of the Georgia General Assembly) that have been implemented to reduce Georgia’s maternal mortality rate. Georgia Perinatal Quality Collaborative (GaPQC) initiatives on neonatal abstinence syndrome, maternal hemorrhage, and severe hypertension are implemented in 62 hospitals across the State, impacting 87% of Georgia’s births. The Perinatal Psychiatry Program will screen, treat, support, and teach about maternal mental health and includes a referral line for providers operated by the Georgia Department of Public Health, Emory Healthcare, and Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia.

HMHBGA’s Rural Perinatal Satellites will also be established in 2020 (pending budget approval) in Meriwether, Randolph, and Wilcox Counties. These sites will improve maternal and infant health outcomes in rural Georgia through prenatal/postpartum education, support services, breastfeeding support, and the provision of needed maternal and infant supplies. Additional initiatives include means to strengthen the maternal mortality review process, Medicaid group prenatal care pilot programs, Center of Excellence on Maternal Mortality at Morehouse School of Medicine, DPH’s Maternal and Neonatal Care Designation Program, and fiscal support for OBGyn residency slots and rural newborn delivery.

The briefing concluded with maternal mortality reduction initiatives for Georgia’s 2020 legislative session and at the federal level. 2020 initiatives include postpartum Medicaid extension to a year, which is an item on HMHBGA’s 2020 legislative agenda. Additionally, support for prenatal education, postpartum support, doula access, and the Planning for Healthy Babies waiver program were discussed. Federal initiatives include HR 4995 and HR 4996 both of which would extend postpartum Medicaid coverage. Sections 406-410 of the Lower Health Care Costs Act (S.1895) would also improve maternal health in a number of ways including service integration, quality improvement, and provider training.

We would like to thank Georgia’s federal legislators for their continued support of the women and infants of the State. If you have any questions please email