Urges Passage of Bills to Improve Infant Health, Prevent Maternal Deaths
Arlington, VA, June 14, 2023 -- In testimony before Congress today, March of Dimes Senior Vice President and Chief Medical and Health Officer Dr. Elizabeth Cherot sounded the alarm on the nation’s maternal and infant health crisis, saying that supporting women before, during and between pregnancies is integral to improving health outcomes for them and their babies. Cherot called for lawmakers to take swift action to pass critical legislation that can help address this public health crisis.
Testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, Cherot pointed to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that shows the number of U.S. women dying from pregnancy-related issues continues to climb. The report shows that 1,205 deaths were reported in 2021, reflecting an increase of nearly 89% in the maternal mortality rate since 2018.
Alongside this news, Cherot noted that “the number of women who experience pregnancy-related complications, or severe maternal morbidity, is increasing at a troubling rate.” She also warned that the state of infant health mirrors that of maternal health, saying recent preliminary data from CDC showing a 1% dip in the preterm birth rate, while promising, still means that 1 in 10 babies are born too sick and too soon.
What’s more, Cherot said persistent disparities exist across key maternal and infant health indicators. Black and Native American women 62% more likely to give birth prematurely, and their babies have a mortality rate double that of the White population.
Cherot urged lawmakers to take immediate action on the following legislation:
- The PREEMIE Reauthorization Act of 2023 (H.R. 3226) which represents the federal government’s commitment to preventing preterm birth and its consequences. This legislation reauthorizes CDC’s highly successful Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System or PRAMS. It also provides for a new study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to examine the societal costs, the impact of social factors, and gaps in public health programs related to preterm birth.
- The Preventing Maternal Deaths Reauthorization Act of 2023 (H.R. 3838), which strengthens and expands federal support for Maternal Mortality Review Committees (MMRCs). MMRCs play an invaluable role in identifying maternal deaths, analyzing the factors that contributed to maternal deaths, and translating the lessons learned into policy changes.
To read the full text of Cherot’s written testimony, click here.
About March of Dimes
March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We support research, lead programs and provide education and advocacy so that every family can have the best possible start. Building on a successful 85-year legacy, we support every pregnant person and every family. To learn more about March of Dimes, please visit marchofdimes.org.