Sen. Brown proposes legislation to lower death rates for infants - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Sen. Brown proposes legislation to lower death rates for infants, moms

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown is looking to decrease rates of infant mortality and maternal deaths in one of the worst states in the country. 

The Democratic Senator introduced the MOMMA Act, short for Mothers and Offspring Mortality and Morbidity Awareness, as an attempt to reduce America's rising maternal and infant mortality rates, especially for moms and babies of color who are significantly more likely to die during or shortly after pregnancy.

"We already know that Ohio suffers from alarmingly high maternal mortality rates, especially among African American mothers," said Brown. "This legislation is important to laying the groundwork that can save the lives of countless mothers and their children; I urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to help us pass this bill without delay."

According to a release from the Senator's office, the United States is one of only 13 countries in the world where the maternal mortality rate is worse now that it was 25 years ago.  

Brown says that on average, maternal mortality claims the lives of 700 American moms each year, with more than 60 percent of these deaths being preventable.  

Further, Brown states that every year in the United States, more than 23,000 infants die, many due to factors that could have been prevented. These shocking statistics cut across geography, education level, income, and socioeconomic status.  

However, according to the Senator, women, and babies of color die at much higher rates than white mothers. Nationally, African American mothers die at 3-4 times the rate of white mothers, and black babies are twice as likely to die as white babies. 

Ohio is ranked among some of the worst in the nation for African American infant mortality. 

In 2017, 982 black infants died before their first birthday. According to the Ohio Department of Health, in Ohio, while the deaths of white babies dropped in 2017, the death of black babies rose. 

Last year, Brown's Improving Access to Maternity Care Act was signed into law. Brown's bill works to identify areas lacking maternal health care professionals and provide incentives for providers practicing in those areas, to help ensure women have access to timely, high-quality maternity care.

In 2014, President Obama signed Brown's Sudden Unexpected Death Data Enhancement and Awareness Act, which enhanced the systems used to report on infant and childhood deaths so that to clarify patterns, allowing for better care.

The MOMMA's Act hopes to build on Sen. Brown's past efforts to address maternal mortality and infant mortality in Ohio by implementing a five-pronged approach to address and reduce maternal deaths:

  • Establishing national obstetric emergency protocols through a federal expert committee,
  • Ensuring dissemination of best-shared practices and coordination amongst maternal mortality review committees,
  • Standardizing data collection and reporting,
  • Improving access to culturally competent care throughout the care continuum, and
  • Expanding Medicaid coverage to new mom's entire post-partum period (1 year).

Along with Senators Brown, Durbin and Duckworth, the Senate bill was also co-sponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tina Smith (D-MN) and Angus King (I-ME).

According to a release, the MOMMA Act has been endorsed by a number of professional organizations and patient advocacy groups, including the American Medical Association (AMA), National Medical Association (NMA), American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), National Association of Certified Professional Midwives (NACPM), Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, American College of Nurse-Midwives, American College of Physicians (ACP), Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, American Public Health Association, American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Black Women's Health Imperative, March of Dimes, Families USA, MomsRising, and the National Partnership for Women & Families.

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