The health of women in the time leading up to and following childbirth is referred to as maternal health. Over the past two decades, maternal mortality rates in the United States have increased by 50 to 70 percent, and rates of severe maternal morbidity have more than doubled as well. Pregnancy-related mortality ratios for Black women with at least a college degree are five times as high as for white women with a similar education.

The COVID-19 pandemic presents additional challenges for maternal health, as access to prenatal and postpartum visits has been limited, and inpatient care becomes necessary for a vulnerable population.

Opportunities for innovation we are pursuing include a more rigorous understanding of the relationship between events during pregnancy and postnatal outcomes, strategies to reduce variation in outcomes by demographic group (for example, racial, socioeconomic, or geographic), and more effective approaches to care during high-risk pregnancies. We are also supporting efforts to help pregnant women get the care they need during the immediate COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath.

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