Becoming pregnant and giving birth bring various mental, physical, and financial stressors, even when everything goes right. But in North Carolina, as in many other states, poor infant and maternal mortality rates, especially for women of color, present additional worries. In 2017, more than 800 babies died before their first birthday in North Carolina, and maternal mortality rates for Black mothers are at least 1.5 times greater than for white mothers in the state.
But there is hope, as can be seen in the pages of the latest issue of the North Carolina Medical Journal. Though there is ample room for improvement in perinatal health care – especially when it comes to equity and access to care – there are clinical and policy strides being made to address the problem.
The issue brief authors – Kelly S. Kimple of NC DHHS; patient and family advocate Latoshia Rouse; Walidah Karim-Rhoades, director of the Center for Women’s Healthcare and Maternal Fetal Care at Cone Health Women’s Hospital; and Kathryn Menard, vice chair for obstetrics and director of maternal fetal medicine at the UNC School of Medicine – lay out the statistics in stark relief, but also provide some encouragement.
“The unacceptable disparities that remain despite some overall improvement in outcomes warrant full attention,” they write. “This issue of the NCMJ highlights the state of perinatal health in North Carolina; the importance of a risk-appropriate perinatal system of care; the opportunities for supporting our parents, children, and families; and how we as a state and as a community can come together to improve the safety and experience of giving birth in North Carolina and beyond.”
Click the links below to read the articles in this issue. For more information on the NCIOM’s work on improving perinatal health in North Carolina, visit the Perinatal System of Care Task Force webpage.
Leveraging an Academic-Practice Partnership to Improve Maternal and Child Health Outcomes in North Carolina [Scientific Article] by Isabel Morgan, Christine Tucker, Diana Urlaub, Tara Owens Shuler, and Dorothy Cilenti
Awareness, Knowledge, and Travel-related Risk Factors for Zika Virus Among Latinas Attending a Federally Qualified Health Center in Rural North Carolina [Scientific Article] by Serena S. Zhou-Talbert, Stephanie Y. Lee, Nadja A. Vielot, Anna C. Silver, Jennifer Anna, Catherine R. Webster, and Sylvia Becker-Dreps
The State of North Carolina’s Perinatal Health [Issue Brief] by Kelly S. Kimple, Latoshia Rouse, Walidah Karim-Rhoades, and M. Kathryn Menard
Infant Mortality: Access and Barriers to Quality Perinatal Care in North Carolina [Invited Commentary] by Tamara Bradham Atkinson
Levels of Care for Perinatal Health [Invited Commentary] by John E. Wimmer, Jr.
Using LOCATe to Improve Neonatal and Maternal Outcomes [Sidebar] by Kathryn A. Mitchell
Perinatal Substance Use Disorders Treatment [Invited Commentary] by Melissa Godwin, Sherri Green, Hendree Jones, Starleen Scott Robbins
Navigating Perinatal Care in Western North Carolina: Access for Patients and Providers [Invited Commentary] by Carol C. Coulson, Shelley Galvin
Maternal Mental Health MATTERS [Invited Commentary] by Mary Kimmel
Neonatal and Early Infant Development [Sidebar] by Melissa R. Johnson, James M. Helm
Medicaid Coverage for Pregnant Women: A Pathway to Healthy Outcomes for Moms and Children [Invited Commentary] by Whitney Tucker, Ciara Zachary
Addressing Maternal Deaths in North Carolina: Striving to Reach Zero [Invited Commentary] by Maria J. Small, Belinda Pettiford, Tara Owens Shuler
Perinatal Disparities and Solutions [Sidebar] by Shafia M. Monroe
The Power of Connection, Trust, and Voice: Perinatal Support Through Community [Invited Commentary] by Amanda Brickhouse Murphy
Disparities in Infant Mortality: Examining Perinatal Periods of Risk [Running the Numbers Column] by Vito Di Bona, Kathleen Jones-Vessey, and Sarah McCracken Cobb
Early Home Visiting to Improve Child and Family Well-being [Spotlight on the Safety Net Column] by Michelle Ries
A Report from the NCIOM: Perinatal System of Care Task Force [Report Brief]