Texas women die of pregnancy-related complications at a rate exceeding that of any other state in the U.S. or developed country in the world.
According to a study published in a national medical journal last September, the maternal mortality rate in Texas almost doubled between 2010 and 2014 - an increase that is hard to explain “in the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval."
Similar findings were reported by a state task force, but neither found a clear explanation for why it's happening.
Maternal mortality is defined by the World Health Organization as the death of a woman while she is pregnant or within 42 days of the termination of her pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management.
In addition to known complication contributors such as heart problems and high blood pressure, the state's Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force identified other leading causes of maternal death: suicide and drug overdose.
Black women continue to be at significantly higher risk for maternal death – a statistic that, while unexplained, remains consistent at both state and national levels.
A lead researcher also cited inconsistency in the quality of death investigations as an issue, and recommended that lawmakers create a statewide protocol for maternal death reporting.
Despite what appears to be an alarming and ominous trend for pregnant Texas women, maternal mortality is not a major priority for the current legislative session.
- C. Junda Woo, MD, MPH, medical director for the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District
- Patrick S. Ramsey, MD, MSPH, maternal-fetal medicine specialist with UT Health San Antonio
- Ingrid Skop, MD, obstetrician and gynecologist at Northeast OB/GYN Associates and Healthy Futures of Texas board member
- Sanjie Garza-Cox, MD, MEDNAX-affiliated neonatologist who works with a community of African-American patients