As part of the state’s ongoing commitment through Nurture NJ to prevent maternal deaths, First Lady Tammy Murphy and the New Jersey Department of Health have released the Maternal Mortality Data Brief, which examines pregnancy-associated deaths in New Jersey between 2014 and 2016 and makes recommendations for improvements.
The report demonstrates the wide racial disparities among maternal deaths, with non-Hispanic Black women dying from pregnancy-related causes at 7.6 times the rate of non-Hispanic white women. Hispanic women die at a rate 2.7 times that of white women.
In preparation for this brief, the New Jersey Maternal Mortality Review Committee reviewed 151 deaths of women who were pregnant or died within one year of the end of their pregnancy, regardless of the cause of death.
Of the 151 deaths, 46 were determined to be pregnancy-related.
In January 2021, First Lady Tammy Murphy unveiled the Nurture NJ Maternal and Infant Health Strategic Plan.
The plan aims to reduce maternal mortality in the state by 50 percent over five years and eliminate the racial disparities in birth outcomes, in which advancing data collection and the work of the Maternal Mortality Review Committee was a key recommendation.
“In order to solve New Jersey’s maternal and infant health crisis, we must first fully understand the scope of the problem through comprehensive data reporting of maternal health outcomes,” First Lady Tammy Murphy said.
“Collecting and analyzing this critical data is a key piece of our Nurture NJ Maternal and Infant Health Strategic Plan and will allow us to create targeted and impactful initiatives for our mothers and babies.”
“The Department is committed to using data to drive action to improve maternal health outcomes,” Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said. “Examining and reporting on the circumstances of these deaths will inform initiatives to prevent tragic losses in the future.”
The report also found that nearly one in four pregnancy-related deaths were due to hemorrhage, and nearly 70 percent of pregnancy-related deaths occurred during the postpartum period within one year of the end of pregnancy.
The report’s recommendations include screening for postpartum depression and domestic violence, referrals to resources for individuals with substance use disorders, and increased consumer education on post-birth complication warning signs.
The brief also suggested that improvements could be made in timely postpartum follow-up visits, adherence to best practices to improve quality and safety, and referrals to social supports and implicit bias training for providers.
The New Jersey Maternal Care Quality Collaborative (NJMCQC) will use this data to inform their work to improve maternal health outcomes by catalyzing multidisciplinary collaboration and collecting and analyzing maternal health data while promoting and executing innovation in maternal health service delivery.
The NJMCQC is 34-member State Maternal Health Task Force based on legislation signed by Governor Phil Murphy.
The NJMCQC is one of several funded strategies under the Health Resources and Services Administration’s State Maternal Health Innovation Program, the federal demonstration program designed to create new innovative strategies that build upon and work with Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant Program.
The NJMCQC, along with other strategies funded through the State Maternal Health Innovation Program, will bring together often-siloed collaborators who contribute to the health of mothers and pregnant individuals, particularly those of color, as they transition from pregnancy to postpartum care.