Addressing severe maternal morbidity’s increase in Pennsylvania

Severe maternal morbidity increased by 40% in Pennsylvania from 2016 to 2022

HARRISBURG, Aug. 28 – In response to the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council’s recent report on severe maternal morbidity in Pennsylvania, state Rep. La’Tasha D. Mayes, D-Allegheny, said she is continuing her work to address severe maternal morbidity and Black maternal health in Pennsylvania.

PHC4’s report found from 2016 to 2022 the highest severe maternal morbidity rates were for Black, non-Hispanic patients, patients 40 to 55 years old, patients with Medicaid as their primary health insurance and patients from ZIP codes with poverty rates higher than 25%.

“Addressing severe maternal morbidity also addresses issues for Black maternal health as severe maternal morbidity rates increased by 51% for Black, non-Hispanic patients in Pennsylvania,” Mayes said. “As Black women are 3.5 times more likely to die during pregnancy-related complications and 22% of Black women report discrimination in health care, we must work to address severe maternal morbidity and more to ensure health care is equitable for all Pennsylvanians.”

According to the report, acute renal failure and disseminated intravascular coagulation contributed to more than 50% of SMM. Pennsylvania residents in Pike County, Lehigh County, Carbon County, Monroe County and Philadelphia reported the highest rates of SMM per 10,000 delivery hospitalizations. Allegheny County reported 101.3 cases of SMM per 10,000 delivery hospitalizations.

In July, Gov. Josh Josh Shapiro signed S.B. 262, sponsored by state Sen. Judy Schwank, D-Berks, into law as Act 5 of 2023, requiring the Department of Health to report maternal morbidity data using hospital discharge data from the PHC4, Mayes noted.

“With this law, and the report from PHC4, we may begin to combat maternal morbidity, which disproportionately affects Black pregnant people,” Mayes said. “As state representative, I will work to address severe maternal morbidity, Black maternal health and reproductive health, rights and justice in Pennsylvania.”