Maternal & Infant Health News

When two reports released in 2016 indicated that Texas mothers were dying at a rate higher than that of any developed nation, the state was shocked. Now, a number of hopeful solutions are in the works, from new legislation that aims to increase the number of women screened for postpartum depression to the creation of a new perinatal health center in Houston.

Nationwide, the maternal mortality rate remains troubling, and reporting projects from ProPublica and Vox take a closer look at what can be done. Meanwhile, the Zika virus continues to concern health care providers, though several vaccines are in the works, and NPR takes a look at breast-feeding norms from around the world. 



Washington Post - August 28, 2017

"The hurricane came, and these newborns refused to wait out the storm"

Large swaths of South Texas ground to a halt as Harvey dumped dozens of inches of rain on everything in its path. Some schools are closed until next month. Thousands of flights were canceled. Travel was stalled for anyone without a functioning boat. But some things could not wait.


Texas Tribune - August 16, 2017 

"Gov. Abbott signs bill giving Texas maternal mortality task force more time" 

After the close of the Texas Legislature's special session, Gov. Abbott signed a bill that will allow the state's Task Force on Maternal Mortality and Morbidity to continue its work until 2023. In a new release the governor said that he was "committed to doing everything we can to combat the maternal mortality rate in this state." 


STAT News - August 9, 2017

"After her own complicated delivery, lawmaker aims to address Texas’s alarming maternal death rate"

In July, Thierry sponsored HB 11, colloquially called the “Texas Moms Matter Act,” which gives a state task force more time to collect data and study the causes of childbirth-related deaths.


Houston Press – July 17, 2017

“Despite Demand, Few Texas Women on Medicaid Are Able to Access IUDs”

In 2016, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission amended the state’s Medicaid rules, allowing hospitals to be reimbursed for offering new mothers on Medicaid access to Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs). But few hospitals have taken advantage of the rule change. One that has? Houston’s LBJ Hospital.


KUT – June 20, 2017

“Low-Income Moms Will Get Screened for Postpartum Depression During Baby Checkups”

In June, Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 2466, which increases screenings for postpartum depression among low-income Texas women. Under the law, which goes into effect in September, mothers covered by Medicaid or CHIP will be screened for PPD when they take their infants in for well-check appointments.


TMC News – June 6, 2017

“Maternal Mortality Rate in Texas”

Several independent reports showed Texas’s maternal mortality rates leading the developed world, capturing the state’s attention in 2016. Now researchers and health care professionals are working to better understand the data that supported those reports and to find a way forward.


Houston Chronicle – May 17, 2017

“New center takes aim at high-risk pregnancies, maternal mortality”

This May, two grants totaling about $1.7 million were awarded to create the March of Dimes Perinatal Safety Center, a collaboration between the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. The new center will concentrate on developing a blueprint to improve infant and maternal mortality rates that can be implemented at hospitals nationwide.



ProPublica – August 31, 2017

“Lost Mothers”

An extensive project by ProPublica, “Lost Mothers” aims to profile the estimated 700 to 900 women who died from pregnancy-related causes in the U.S. in 2016. 120 women have been identified by the team; full profiles of 16 are available to read online. 


The Atlantic -- August 16, 2017 

"At Last, a Big, Successful Trial of Probiotics" 

An Indian study that involved more than 4,500 newborn babies found that providing the newborns with a synbiotic lowered their chance of developing sepsis by 40 percent. 


The Atlantic – July 12, 2017

“Growing Cheaper Embryos for IVF Inside the Vagina”

A new incubator, called INVOcell, may provide a cheaper, more accessible alternative to traditional in-vitro fertilization, says Dallas-based reproductive endocrinologist Kevin Doody. But will it catch on?


The Atlantic – July 6, 2017

“The Case for Testing Zika Vaccines on Pregnant Women”

Though pregnant women are almost never included in medical research such as vaccine testing, a group of medical ethicists argue that pregnant women should be part of any clinical trials for Zika vaccines. After all, they’re the ones with the most at risk.


NPR – June 26, 2017

“Secrets of Breast-feeding from Global Moms in the Know”

Anthropologists like Brooke Scelza once wondered why American women seemed to struggle more than most with breast-feeding. Did women from other cultures have better breast-feeding instincts? Scelza traveled to Namibia to find out.


New York Times – June 12, 2017

“Practicing What I Preached About Breast-Feeding”

Pediatricians regularly recommend new mothers follow the AAP’s guidelines: exclusive breast-feeding for a baby’s first six months, and continued breast-feeding for a year. But how easy are those guidelines to follow? Dr. Perri Klass, a practicing pediatrician, committed to following those recommendations for her own third child, and shares the experience in the Times.


Vox – June 29, 2017

“California decided it was tired of women bleeding to death in childbirth”

Maternal mortality rates in the U.S. have been climbing, especially in Texas, where the rates are some of the highest in the developed world. But in California, the maternal mortality rate is a third of the U.S. average, largely due to the work of the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC).