University of Iowa maternal health experts, in partnership with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), have received a five-year, $10 million grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration to improve maternal health outcomes in the state.
Iowa is one of nine states to receive a State Maternal Health Innovation Program grant. The award will be used to create and implement innovative strategies to address disparities in maternal health and improve maternal health outcomes, with a particular emphasis on preventing and reducing maternal death and severe maternal illness.
Dr. Stephen Hunter, UI professor of obstetrics and gynecology, is the principal investigator and Dr. Kelli Ryckman, associate professor of epidemiology in the University of Iowa College of Public Health, is a co-investigator. The team includes UI faculty in the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Epidemiology, and IDPH staff.
Like the rest of the nation, maternal health in Iowa is experiencing a crisis. Maternal death rates are higher in the U.S. than in any other developed nation, and they are rising. In Iowa, maternal mortality has almost doubled in the three-year period 2015-2018, compared to the previous three years, up from 20 deaths to 39.
In addition, Hunter says, patients are now sicker than in the past, with increasing maternal age, higher levels of obesity and related health complications, and societal problems such as substance abuse and mental health, all playing a role. To compound these problems, access to care is diminishing and the provider workforce is shrinking.
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