Sara will be moderating the panel discussion “Using Linked Health Data Sets for Population Health Science” at the National Association of Health Data Organizations (NAHDO) annual conference, Sept. 28-30, 2021.
There has been a lot of media coverage in the past several years about the shockingly high and increasing rate of maternal mortality in the United States, which inequitably impacts Black women, indigenous women and women of color. More than 700 women died from pregnancy, childbirth or related complications in 2019. Equally present but less reported are the women who survive childbirth but struggle with health issues following delivery. The stress of bringing an infant home, coupled with reduced supportive services (many services expire at delivery or shortly thereafter), creates an especially vulnerable time for women, both physically and mentally.
Comagine Health has partnered with hospitals in Oregon to improve care for women and their infants. Together, we examined a group of about 25,000 Oregon women who delivered a live infant in 2017, 25% of whom were readmitted to emergency departments or hospitals within one year after delivery.
Teenagers and women with psychiatric disease, asthma and who smoke were at highest risk of postpartum readmission. The most common reasons for ED visits were mental, behavioral and neurodevelopmental disorders (28%). Notably, 69% of these women’s first readmission events occurred between six and 52 weeks postpartum — after the typical six-week postpartum checkup.
So how do we, as a system, reduce the risk of poor health outcomes and increased hospital and emergency department utilization among these women? Interventions at the time of delivery may be too late. A single postpartum checkup may not be enough.
Rather, we should focus on women’s health interventions, driven by data and in partnership with our communities, to ensure young women grow into healthy adults, living healthy and empowered lives within healthy communities. Communities with equitable access to care and where rates of psychiatric disease, asthma and smoking are low. There, women would receive the care and support necessary to prioritize their own physical and mental health before, during and after pregnancy, ultimately changing their health trajectory after delivery.
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