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Groups Announce Ambitious Maternal Health Initiative

May 10, 2013

Washington, DC -- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) are pleased to announce the Maternal Health Initiative, a large multi-group collaborative effort aimed at reducing maternal morbidity and mortality in the US by 50% as well as reducing the racial and ethnic maternal health disparities.

“The US ranks 50th in maternal deaths worldwide, far below Canada, Japan, and many western European countries,” said Jeanne A. Conry, MD, PhD, president of The College and assistant physician in chief at The Permanente Medical Group in Roseville, CA. “If we are to cut maternal morbidity and mortality by 50%, then one of the things we must do is address women’s overall health and their reproductive and contraceptive choices. With ever-increasing rates of chronic diseases such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes among reproductive-age women, we need to stress contraception and planning pregnancies to optimize maternal outcomes.”

At its recent Annual Clinical Meeting in New Orleans, The College, in close collaboration with SMFM, convened a group of over 100 stakeholder representatives for the Maternal Health Initiative, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Nurse Midwives, Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, Health Services and Resources Administration, Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as hospitals, birth centers, and blood banks. This group participated in discussions regarding specific steps all birthing facilities should implement to reduce maternal risks and improve birth outcomes.

Reducing maternal morbidity and mortality can be achieved by improving women’s health across their reproductive years through improved access to contraception planning and by ensuring safety in maternity care. The Maternal Health Initiative stakeholders committed to work together to establish, at every facility that provides maternity care in the US, protocols that address the leading causes of maternal harm or death, including hemorrhage, hypertension, thromboembolism, cardiac disease, sepsis, and obesity. “Implementing these protocols at each maternity facility nationwide will reduce the risk of pregnancy complications and enable each facility to respond more effectively when complications occur,” said Brian M. Mercer, MD, president of SMFM and chair of ob-gyn at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, OH.

In addition, the Maternal Health Initiative stakeholders are developing a list of symptoms and warning signs that require rapid responses so that serious complications can be identified and treated quickly. The Maternal Health Initiative collaborators are committed to initiating these ambitious efforts before the end of this year.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of more than 57,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization. www.acog.org

The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (est. 1977) is a non-profit membership group for obstetricians/gynecologists who have additional formal education and training in maternal-fetal medicine. The society is devoted to reducing high-risk pregnancy complications by providing continuing education to its 2,000 members on the latest pregnancy assessment and treatment methods. It also serves as an advocate for improving public policy, and expanding research funding and opportunities for maternal-fetal medicine. The group hosts an annual scientific meeting in which new ideas and research in the area of maternal-fetal medicine are unveiled and discussed. For more information, visit www.smfm.org or www.facebook.com/SocietyforMaternalFetalMedicine.