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A Look at the Maternal Health Crisis in Some of the States Struggling the Most


A Look at the Maternal Health Crisis in Some of the States Struggling the Most

Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee are among the worst states to have a baby as the maternal and infant health crises grows

As the maternal health crisis continues around the nation, Arkansas has one of the worst maternal and infant death rates. Over the past several years, expectant mothers at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock have come in to deliver with high-risk pregnancies. In 2021, the state recorded the second-highest infant mortality rate in the country with 8.59 deaths per 1,000 live births, according to the CDC. Mississippi had the highest rates, at 9.39 deaths per 1,000 live births that same year. Nationally, the rate was 5.4 deaths per 1,000 live births. Arkansas hospitals have unfortunately been closing over the past few years because they have become unprofitable, leaving new mothers little choice but to drive over an hour at times to have their babies.

For new mothers in other states, the statistics remain grim—but many states are trying to combat the maternal death trend. Lawmakers in Kentucky are targeting ways to improve the state’s maternal mortality rate by, among other measures, addressing lack of insurance coverage, access to prenatal care, mental health treatment, and follow-up care. The legislation also includes an enrollment period after a woman finds out she is pregnant. These measures aim to lower the maternal mortality rate in Kentucky, which is one of the highest at 37.7 women for every 100,000 live births dying during or within 42 days after childbirth.

Tennessee State University recently announced a five-year, $2.3 million research grant that it will receive from U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration. The university is one of fifteen historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, receiving the grant, which aims to help close the gap in disparities in maternal health, including from a racial discrimination perspective. Black women are almost three times more likely than white women to die during or shortly after pregnancy. With Tennessee having one of the highest maternal death rates in the country, at 41.7 women per 100,000 live births in 2018-2021, according to the CDC, this grant comes at a critical time to help save more mother’s lives.

The prevalence of racism in perinatal care is a long-running, uphill battle that lawmakers and advocates have been fighting. In California, a 2019 law required hospitals to train their maternity care staff on racism in medicine. According to an investigation published by the California Department of Justice in October 2023, only 17% of hospitals had complied with that law. When the department began its investigation in 2021, none of the hospitals complied. “Nearly a third of facilities to which DOJ reached out began training only after DOJ contacted them, suggesting that DOJ’s outreach caused compliance in many cases,” the report states.

Do You Suspect Your Loved One Died as a Result of Medical Negligence?

If you believe your loved one died due to medical negligence during her pregnancy, labor, childbirth or the postpartum period, consider speaking to an experienced and compassionate birth injury attorney. The attorneys at Grant & Eisenhofer P.A. can help you understand your potential legal options, if any, and answer any questions you may have.

Call us at (877) 262-9767 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We represent families nationwide and have offices in Chicago IL, Baltimore MD, New York NY, and Wilmington DE.