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The continued rise of maternal mortality in Georgia leaves families broken in its wake

Samantha Hogan, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Health & Fitness

ATLANTA -- On August 16, 2022, Amanda Jones logged on to Facebook to share the good news. She posted pictures of a positive pregnancy test, a grainy black-and-white ultrasound image and test results confirming that she was expecting a second girl.

Jones had been a stay-at-home mother in Macon since she and her partner, Donald Tullius, welcomed their first child, Katie, two years earlier. That December, Jones gave birth to Miranda during a planned cesarean section.

“She was doing great. Fine. She had no real problem, other than her blood pressure was a little high,” Tullius said.

In the next several months, Jones’ legs began to swell and hurt. The couple looked online for the side effects of the blood pressure medication she was prescribed after the birth and scheduled an appointment with Jones’ doctor. Then, early one morning in June 2023, Jones went into the kitchen to prepare a bottle of formula for the baby.

“She dropped,” said Tullius, who called 911. “She passed out.”

Later that morning, Jones was pronounced dead. Doctors determined she had a blood clot in her right lung.

 

Jones and other women who die during pregnancy or within a year after giving birth are closely studied by state health officials. Policymakers have worked in earnest for a decade to improve pregnancy outcomes, yet Georgia remains one of the least safe states in the country for women to give birth.

Georgia women are dying from pregnancy-related causes at the highest rate that has been documented by the state in the past decade. Each year, between 35 and 40 mothers die, recent state health data show.

“These deaths are very complex. It’s not that these are people who just died during childbirth because they received bad care. It’s often that there are really complex social determinants of health contributing to the death,” said Katie Kopp, director of maternal programs for the Department of Public Health.

Under the Gold Dome this session, the House has passed a bill to study maternal and infant health services and lawmakers may propose expanding Medicaid. If passed, the expansion could be the state’s most effective tool in helping women access health care prior to becoming pregnant, which could lower maternal mortality in the state, advocates said.

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©2024 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Visit at ajc.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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