Despite Poor Rankings, Report Finds Georgia Making Strides In Care For Mothers, Babies

As of 2017, Georgia ranked 5th highest in the nation for preterm birth rates.
As of 2017, Georgia ranked 5th highest in the nation for preterm birth rates.
Credit M. Spencer Green / Associated Press file

Georgia continues to rank among the states with the highest rates of maternal mortality, low birth rate, preterm birth and infant mortality.

The findings are part of a report released Thursday by Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia.

Amber Mack is a research and policy analyst for the group. She notes that black women have a much greater chance of dying as a result of pregnancy.

She says this is partly because they are at a higher risk of having a medical condition that could lead to complications.

“There’s also a social factor that a lot of people may sometimes feel uncomfortable in discussing or addressing,” said Mack. “So when we look at environmental racism, when we look at African American communities versus white communities. Who has access to high-quality care?”

The cases of neonatal abstinence syndrome tripled between 2010 and 2015, coinciding with the nation’s opioid crisis.

“Georgia’s not necessarily unique in terms our increase. But we are unique in that fact that the Department of Public Health does track this. So we’re able to surveil this, which is why we’re able to obtain the data around it,” said Mack.

Despite the low rankings in several key categories, Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia executive director Elise Blasingame does see progress being made.

“The General Assembly has been very good about increasing the amount of funding, specifically for maternal health and infant screenings in the past session. With the proposed budget cuts, we may see some of that change. We hope that the General Assembly will continue to prioritize that.”

Blasingame says one of the main things they’ll be advocating for in the next legislative session is extending medicaid for the postpartum period.

“Instead of Medicaid ending at 60 days after birth, having a full year of care so that they can get into subsequent cardiovascular appointments, maternal mental health appointments. Making sure they get that care so that we can prevent some of these fatalities.”


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