CDC Foundation Partnership to Help Reduce Maternal Mortality in the United States

An estimated 700 women die of pregnancy-related causes each year in the United States and another 65,000 have serious health complications. Many of these deaths and complications can be prevented. Strong, accurate data are critical for identifying opportunities for preventing deaths among mothers and designing effective interventions. A new collaboration between the CDC Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) will produce stronger data than ever before and foster collaboration that can lead to effective interventions. Funding for the collaboration was provided through an award agreement with Merck on behalf of its Merck for Mothers program.

“At CDC, we remain committed to reducing maternal deaths,” said Wanda Barfield, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health. “We’re excited to take part in this important collaboration which will prepare the right people across the nation with critical information they can use to make an immediate and tangible difference in their area.”

For nearly 100 years, many states and jurisdictions have funded maternal mortality review committees to meet periodically to assess available data on maternal deaths and transform that information into prevention opportunities. However, these groups have worked largely independently, resulting in non-standard data collection and hindering information-sharing between committees. This new partnership will address both of these challenges.

There will be three critical outcomes of this partnership. First, partners will create a standard data-collection and analysis tool, called the Maternal Mortality Review Data System (MMRDS). The standardized data-collection tool will also include resources to help local experts navigate the critical next step of using the data to identify prevention opportunities.

A second outcome of the partnership will be the development and release of a web-based resource portal—expected later this year—that will assist all states and jurisdictions in establishing or improving a maternal mortality review. This resource portal will contain tools from existing committees and national resources, including the MMRDS, that all states can access to share best practices to improve data collection, analysis, and the programmatic infrastructure of review committees overall.  

A third outcome of the partnership will be a data report, expected in 2017, with information from all jurisdictions reporting data through MMRDS. The report will be the first to explore data across jurisdictions and analyze the data to identify opportunities to prevent mortality. States and jurisdictions can share their data with other areas to work together to identify new possibilities for prevention opportunities. 

“We are grateful to Merck for Mothers for funding this important work,” said Dr. Judith Monroe, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “The CDC Foundation is proud to help reduce maternal mortality by working with partners to support CDC’s efforts to help protect women.”