Wilkes-Barre, PA: Maternal & Family Health Services, Inc. (MFHS) held a news conference today featuring State Senator Lisa Baker, and Dr. Lynne Coslett-Charlton to announce that January 23rd is the first official Maternal Health Awareness Day in Pennsylvania. Sen. Baker introduced the Senate resolution because of significantly rising maternal mortality rates in Pennsylvania and across the country. Representative Eddie Day Pashinski supported a similar resolution in the House, marking this day to recognize the women who die from complications of pregnancy or childbirth.
The House has also recently formed the Maternal Mortality Review Committee, which is working to gather information and find solutions to address some of the most prevalent medical issues facing pregnant women. Dr. Lynn Coslett-Charlton, who chairs the Pennsylvania section of the American College of OB-GYN, was the lead in introducing the bill to develop the MMRC. MFHS President & CEO Bette Saxton was appointed to the committee last year.
“I’d like to thank Dr. Coslett-Charlton and Maternal and Family Health Services for hosting us today, and for your leadership in advancing what I believe is a very simple policy approach that Pennsylvania needed to adopt,” said Senator Baker. “The creation of the fourteen member committee that will help us look at prevention, education, training and opportunities to improve the health and wellbeing of mothers and their babies.”
More women die from pregnancy complications in the United States than in any other developed country in the world. Despite advances in medicine and medical technologies, the United States saw a 26 percent increase in the death rate of expectant mothers from 2000-14. And according to a 2016 report from America’s Health Rankings, based on Centers for Disease Control National Vital Statistics System data, Pennsylvania ranks 21st in the nation in maternal death rates. Maternal Health Awareness Day is designed to highlight this problem and the work being done to improve maternal health across Pennsylvania.
“Maternal and Family Health Services is best known for its prevention and intervention services,” said MFHS President & CEO Bette Cox Saxton. “Last year we served over 5,200 low-income pregnant and postpartum women and over 12,000 infants. We know we have a vital role to play in helping mothers recognize key risk factors associated with maternal and infant mortality. I am honored to be on the newly formed Maternal Mortality Review Committee to begin the important work of reducing maternal deaths in Pennsylvania.”
“I can think of no better place to roll out the first Maternal Health Awareness Day in Pennsylvania than Maternal and Family Health Services,” said Dr. Coslett-Charlton. “I want to especially thank Senator Baker for supporting ACOG’s goal of creating the Maternal Mortality Review Committee and for the resolution to introduce Maternal Health Awareness Day and for advancing women and children’s health.”