Maternal and Infant Health News

Maternal mortality continues to be the perinatal news topic that most occupies Texas media. Perhaps the most substantive pieces on this topic, in recent months, were the Texas Tribune's "Dangerous Deliveries: Is Texas doing enough to stop moms from dying?" and the recent three-part series from KUT, Austin's NPR affiliate.

The Tribune piece begins with this heartbreaking opening:

In the photos flashing on the projector screen, Michelle Zavala had a look of serenity.

In one, her eyes were closed as she smiled with her newborn daughter Clara nestled under her chin. Another showed her kissing her husband Chris on vacation. Another captured her laughing while stomping grapes at a vineyard, radiating the positivity that people loved about her.

Below the screen, Michelle lay in a casket, surrounded by bouquets of flowers. The Pflugerville woman died in July — just nine days after giving birth to Clara — from a blood clot in her heart. She was 35.

That piece, along with a number of others, paid particular attention to the question of data, and to the challenges that inadequate and inconsistent data collection present in trying to understand why the maternal mortality numbers have been so high. As one article framed it:

A peer-reviewed study published in the quarterly journal Birth ... attributes part, though not all, of the increase in Texas’ maternal mortality rate—which is among the highest of any state—to a statistical mirage caused by misreporting on death certificates.

Other recent issues in maternal and health news include the challenges facing rural delivery rooms, the potential relationship between fracking and low birth weight babies, and CHIP funding.  A report from UT System Population Health, on infant mortality rates in Texas, also generated stories in Texas media. 

Maternal Mortality in Texas:

KUT - Feb. 20-23, 2018
California's Maternal Deaths Dropped Without Health Care Expansion – A Tough Prospect In Texas
There's No Success Story Texas Can Follow To Stop Black Mothers From Dying
Here's How Texas Can Follow California's Lead In Reducing Maternal Deaths
Like Texas, California Once Had A Maternal Mortality Crisis. Here's How The State Solved It.
Inside Philanthropy - Feb. 10, 2018
Who's Funding to Reduce Maternal Mortality in Texas?
San Antonio Express News - Feb. 7, 2018
Why black women are more at risk of death related to childbirth
San Antonio Express News - Feb. 2, 2018
Lawmakers urge more action to grapple with Texas’ maternal health problems
Texas Tribune - Feb. 1, 2018
Two maternal health wake-up calls for state leaders
KERA/Think - Jan. 24, 2018
New Moms At Risk: Maternal Mortality In Texas
Texas Tribune - Jan. 16, 2018
Dangerous Deliveries: Is Texas doing enough to stop moms from dying?
Texas mother: The extent of the state’s maternal mortality rate is sobering
Fighting maternal mortality: A resource guide for Texas mothers
STAT News - Jan. 11, 2018
Black mothers are dying: the toll of racism on maternal health
Dallas Morning News - Jan. 8, 2018
It's impossible to solve Texas' maternal mortality problem with faulty state data
Time - Jan. 5, 2018
Why Are So Many Mothers Dying in Texas?
Texas Observer - Jan. 5 -
‘A Problem of Political Will’: Why is Texas’ Maternal Mortality Data so Far Behind?
Pro Publica - Jan. 4, 2018
Maternal Deaths Are Increasing in Texas, But Probably Not as Much as We Thought
KUT - Jan. 4, 2018
Texas' Maternal Mortality Problem Is Also A Data Problem, Study Finds

Infant Mortality Rates in Texas:

Longview News-Journal - Feb. 10, 2018
Study: High rates of infant deaths in area ZIP codes
Houston Chronicle - Feb. 8, 2018
East Texas ZIP codes with the highest infant mortality rates
The Pumphandle - Jan. 27, 2018
Study finds big differences in infant mortality within Texas cities and between its ZIP codes
Community Impact - Jan. 26, 2018
See how infant mortality rates vary by ZIP code in Northwest Austin
Texas Public Radio - Jan. 23, 2018
Why Are More Hispanic Infants Dying Before Their First Year In San Antonio's East Side?
Fort Worth Star Telegram - Jan. 20, 2018
Why do babies die? ZIP code study hopes to find the answers
The Rivard Report - Jan. 18, 2018
Hispanic Infant Mortality Twice the State Average in 2 Eastside Zip Codes
KFOX - Jan. 18, 2018
El Paso could be lowering Texas' infant mortality average, study says
Texas Medicine - Jan. 18, 2018
Searchable Map Tracks Infant Mortality Rates in Texas
Texas Tribune - Jan. 18, 2018
Texas' infant mortality rates vary across state, among ethnic groups, study shows
Houston Chronicle - Jan. 17, 2018
Infant mortality still hits hard in certain Houston areas
East Texas Matters - Jan. 7, 2018
Coalition seeks to lower infant mortality rate in Smith County

Other Stories:

Texas Tribune - Jan. 29

Texas fetal remains burial rule blocked by federal court again

U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra ruled Monday afternoon that Texas cannot move forward with the rule, citing that the Texas Department of State Health Services’ arguments “lack merit.”  

Texas Tribune - Jan. 17, 2018

A shrinking number of rural Texas hospitals still deliver babies. Here's what that means for expecting moms.

Across Texas, rural hospitals are facing a difficult decision: Whether to continue delivering babies as the number of births falls and the cost of providing the service rises.

Fox13  - Jan. 6, 2018

Texas woman dies from flesh-eating bacteria after raw oysters banquet

LeBlanc and her friend Karen Bowers picked up some raw oysters in a Westwego market for a treat. The two women ate about two dozen raw oysters each before LeBlanc became ill, Bowers said.

Texas Tribune - Jan. 5, 2018

Texas has enough federal funds to keep CHIP running through the end of March

Texas now has enough federal money to keep alive a health insurance program for more than 400,000 uninsured kids and pregnant women through the end of March, a state official said Friday. 

The Verge - Dec. 13, 2017

When mothers live near fracking sites, babies are more likely to be born underweight

Children born near fracking sites are 25 percent more likely to weigh less than what is healthy at birth, according to a new study. Why this is happening isn’t clear, but the researchers believe that it might have to do with environmental pollution, which may have negative health effects on mothers — and their babies.