NJ Department of Health Receives $450K Federal Grant to Support Maternal Mortality Efforts

The New Jersey Department of Health today announced it received a $450,000 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant to support the work of the New Jersey Maternal Mortality Review Committee.

New Jersey was one of 25 grantees and is eligible to receive this amount annually through September 29, 2024.

The New Jersey Maternal Mortality Review Committee (NJMMRC) works to identify and systematically review all pregnancy-associated deaths.

The grant will provide critical technical and financial assistance, including data infrastructure support that will enhance the sustainability and capacity of the NJMMRC.

“This funding will help improve timeliness and accuracy of case review and determination,” said Acting Health Commissioner Judith M. Persichilli.

“By enhancing data collection and sharing, we can improve maternal health outcomes by translating findings into better care quality.”

The New Jersey Maternal Mortality Review Committee is among the oldest in the United States and has worked collaboratively under the Department’s auspices for decades.

The Department identifies cases of maternal deaths for the NJMMRC from death certificates, live birth or fetal death certificates, hospital discharge data files, coroner reports, and abstracted data from hospital health records.

The NJMMRC assesses each case and determines whether the pregnancy-associated death is also either (1) pregnancy-related; (2) pregnancy-associated, but not pregnancy-related; or (3) pregnancy-associated, but undetermined whether it is pregnancy-related.

The NJMMRC then releases these data alongside contextual factors, such as causes and timing of death, as well as quality improvement recommendations.

“The death of a woman due to pregnancy complications is tragic,” said First Lady Tammy Murphy.

“Through the work of this committee, we are taking a critical step forward in combatting the maternal and infant health crisis by examining data and determining the economic and social factors that contribute to maternal mortality, so that no family needs to suffer such a profound loss.”

In May 2019, Governor Murphy signed P.L.2019, c.75 that formally established the NJMMRC within NJDOH, increased the legal authority for the NJMMRC to investigate potential pregnancy-related deaths, and delineated the committee membership to guarantee that it is broadly representative.

Under the new law, the expanded NJMMRC, which DOH expects to convene in the fall, will include 24 members representing relevant clinical specialties, maternal and child health consortia, professional organizations, and state agencies.

The statutory mandate made the NJMMRC eligible for this grant opportunity.

The work of the NJMMRC will support Nurture NJ, the First Lady’s statewide awareness campaign that is committed to reducing infant and maternal mortality and morbidity and ensuring equitable maternal and infant care among women and children of all races and ethnicities.

“Our maternal mortality rates are unacceptable and when we factor in the racial disparities, it is shocking,” said Senator Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex).

“Many of my colleagues in the legislature, particularly Senator Ruiz, have worked hard to improve standards across the board for mothers in our state and this grant will go a long way in those efforts.

Maternity care is not an option, it is a basic necessity and hopeful, this will help make it a reality for New Jersey mothers.”

“New Jersey is taking its first step to address its alarming maternal mortality rate and the federal government is recognizing the work that we are doing to improve the lives of newborn mothers,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “By enhancing our ability to collect and process data we will be able to create more effective legislation and better measure the impact of initiatives going forward. Ultimately, this money will help ensure more new moms are given the opportunity to watch their babies learn and grow.”

"The New Jersey Maternal Mortality Review Committee is designed to find the root causes of pregnancy-related deaths and unique health issues that pregnant women and new mothers face," said Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D - Camden/Burlington). "These federal funds will go a long way toward helping us resolve these issues while improving quality of life for young families in New Jersey."