LDH reports improvements in maternal morbidity in La., but racial disparity remains

*Note: This is a stock photo.
*Note: This is a stock photo.(
Updated: May. 5, 2021 at 12:02 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (KSLA) - The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) released a report Wednesday, May 5 detailing progress in reducing severe maternal morbidity among those who experience hemorrhage and severe hypertension in facilities that are part of the Louisiana Perinatal Quality Collaborative (LaPQC), however, a racial disparity remains.

LaPQC’s report on Reducing Maternal Morbidity shows severe maternal morbidity among hemorrhage was reduced by almost 35% and severe maternal morbidity among severe hypertension was reduce by nearly 12%. The initiative was first launched to reduce the occurrence of these two contributors to maternal morbidity: preventable hypertension and/or hemorrhage, and to also reduce disparities in outcomes.

Data from the report shows Louisiana has made significant progress in ensuring “safe, equitable, and dignified” births for all in the state. The final report from LaPQC covers works that started in 2018 with 42 birthing facilities.

LDH says the report shows that the goal of a 20% reduction in severe maternal morbidity among hemorrhage was surpassed, however, that same goal was not met for severe maternal morbidity among hypertension.

“What is evident through the Reducing Maternal Morbidity Initiative is that intentional, consistent, and sustained improvement in processes have led to better recognition and response to hemorrhage and hypertension,” said Dr. Veronica Gillispie-Bell, medical director of LaPQC. “This progress is encouraging, especially given the challenges of the pandemic, though we clearly have more work to do in reducing racial disparities. We appreciate the hard work and continued commitment of our hospitals to making Louisiana a safer, healthier place for all birthing persons.”

While the report is encouraging, a significant racial disparity remains present. According to the report, while non-Hispanic Black birthing persons are still more likely to experience severe maternal morbidity among hemorrhage, the measure decreased among non-Hispanic decreased among by almost 50% in comparison to a 16% decrease among non-Hispanic white birthing persons.

There was also an improvement in reducing severe maternal morbidity among hypertension in non-Hispanic white birthing persons, but there was an increase of about 8% for non-Hispanic Black persons.

“We have much more work ahead of us to make health disparities a thing of the past, but these results are encouraging,” Dr. Gillispie-Bell said.

LDH says Louisiana has become a model in the U.S. for working to improve maternal outcomes. Since August of 2018, LaPQC has grown to 42 participating facilities, meaning that nine out of every 10 births in the state occurs at one of these facilities.

In January of 2021, LaPQC launches the Safe Births Initiative, which continues to improve work related to hemorrhage and hypertension, while also working to reduce the state’s low-risk first-time Cesarean delivery rate.

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