New York State Department of Health Aims to Reduce Maternal Mortality

Focus on Hypertensive Disorders in Pregnant Women

ALBANY, NY (September 23, 2014) - The New York State Department of Health (DOH) has new tools and resources for health care providers and patients aimed at reducing hypertensive disorders in pregnancy, a leading cause of maternal mortality and morbidity in New York State. This campaign to reduce pregnancy-related deaths by educating health care providers and their patients about hypertensive disorders such as pre-eclampsia and related complications during and after pregnancy was developed with a grant from the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) Every Mother Initiative.

"Many pregnancy-related deaths are preventable," said Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. "Women need better access to high-quality health care and lifestyle changes are critical for healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. In addition, the medical community must recognize the warning signs of pre-eclampsia and address it early."

Forty-four percent of maternal deaths – those which occur while a woman is pregnant or within one year of the end of a pregnancy – between 2006 and 2008 were affected by hypertensive disorders, and 23percent of those deaths were directly due to hypertensive disorders.

"In 2012, New York State's maternal mortality rate was 18.8 deaths per 100,000 live births. That is an improvement over the previous year's rate of 22.4, but it still far exceeds the Healthy People 2020 goal of 11.4 per 100,000 live births," said Marilyn Kacica, MD, MPH, Medical Director, DOH Division of Family Health. "A 2014 World Health Organization report ranked the United States at 50th globally in maternal mortality with a rate of 28 deaths per 100,000 live births. We must do better."

Working with the New York State Perinatal Quality Collaborative, DOH utilized the AMCHP Every Mother Initiative grant to develop tools and resources including:

  • A poster for health care providers illustrating proper blood pressure measurement techniques;
  • A Pre-Eclampsia Early Recognition Tool highlighting the clinical features of pre-eclampsia to help providers recognize the symptoms;
  • An algorithm to guide medical professionals in treating pre-eclampsia and eclampsia in emergency departments;
  • A provider training on hypertensive disorders in pregnancy, available to providers as a live event and as an archived webinar; and
  • Educational materials for patients on the signs and symptoms of pre-eclampsia.

These tools and resources are being distributed to hospital emergency departments, birthing hospitals, obstetricians, registered nurses, and other clinicians who treat pregnant women.