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Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498
Date: March 26, 2014
DOVER (March 25, 2014) - Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) and the Delaware Child Death Near Death Stillborn Commission (CDNDSC) have been selected to receive $30,000 in grant funding through "Merck for Mothers," a program aimed at improving maternal mortality rates. Maternal mortality is the death of a woman due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth. In the United States, approximately 50,000 women suffer severe complications requiring hospitalization during pregnancy or childbirth every year. According to DPH's Office of Vital Statistics, Delaware has between zero and four maternal deaths annually. Funds from this grant will be used to improve Delaware's maternal mortality data analysis abilities, and develop and implement evidence-informed education about maternal mortality issues for health care providers.
Currently, the United States lacks a complete understanding of its maternal mortality rate because of limitations in the data systems used to track and analyze maternal death. "We are proud to work with our partners to address critical gaps in maternal health care to help ensure women have safe and healthy pregnancies and childbirth," said Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH director. "This important project is a natural extension of our 'Delaware Thrives' infant mortality reduction work."
"Merck for Mothers" is an initiative designed to create a world where no woman dies giving life. The focus is to help states provide access to quality care before and during pregnancy, childbirth and afterward; raise public awareness of the importance of pre- and postnatal care; and to back advocacy efforts to raise the visibility of the issue of maternal mortality in local communities. Along with the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP), Merck is providing support to health leaders in Delaware, Colorado, Georgia, New York, North Carolina, and Ohio - teaming states that have fledgling maternal mortality programs with states where programs are already established.
DPH, the Delaware Healthy Mother and Infant Consortium (DHMIC) and its partners have had great success in lowering Delaware's infant mortality rates by almost 14 percent over the last decade through programs aimed at reducing premature births and instances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, including the "Long Live Dreams" program that promotes safe sleeping practices for infants. Delaware recently received the national Virginia Apgar Award, which was given through the March of Dimes in recognition of states that lowered their preterm birth rates 8 percent between 2009 and 2014. In addition to continuing to reduce infant mortality numbers, programs like "Merck for Mothers" will help provide a broader understanding of maternal mortality issues and the risks associated with pregnancy and childbirth.
In the United States, the maternal mortality rate doubled between 1995 and 2008, despite improvements in maternal mortality rates globally. The CDNDSC is the lead organization in Delaware for child death reviews and fetal and infant mortality reviews, and therefore has primary responsibility for the Delaware Maternal Mortality Review (MMR) program. The goal of Delaware's MMR is to conduct in-depth, multi-disciplinary reviews of pregnancy-related deaths, and some pregnancy-associated deaths in an effort to describe and track factors associated with maternal deaths in Delaware; identify system-wide issues that may have contributed to the deaths; develop and disseminate recommendations for change; and assist in the implementation of action steps that will improve the health of mothers in Delaware.
DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eating at least five servings of fruit or vegetables a day, watching no more than two hours of recreational screen time daily, getting one hour of physical activity each day, and drinking almost no sugar-sweetened drinks.
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.