In a study published in the September issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, researchers found in 2011 and 2012 the reported maternal mortality rate for Texas doubled.
No other state had experienced a similar increase and researchers weren’t able to explain exactly why this happened. Since then, that group of researchers from around the country are doing a follow-up study aimed at figuring out what happened in Texas.
And a state task force – created by lawmakers a couple of years ago to answer questions specifically about the recent rise in maternal mortality – doesn’t know exactly what is happening.
“The work of the task force is really just beginning,” says Dr. Lisa Hollier, the chair of the Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force. “I think over the next year or two we will have significantly more information to help us understand the causes for the rising maternal mortality rate in Texas.”
The task force does have some insights, though.
According to the report released last week, black women had the greatest risk for maternal death. They also found heart problems, drug use, and hypertension were causes of many of the maternal death in Texas. It was also reported a majority of maternal deaths recorded occurred more than 42 days after a woman gave birth.
But their study found another problem – and it had to with the data they were looking at.
“There was inconsistency in the quality of the investigations,” Hollier says.
During her research, Hollier saw some serious issues with how deaths are investigated and later categorized on a death certificate in Texas. She said at issue were some of the death inquests – all of which were not equally thorough and informative.