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Recent maternal deaths in Alaska were preventable, report says

All maternal deaths in Alaska that occurred in 2017 and 2018 were preventable.

That’s according to the Maternal and Child Death Review Committee, a program of the Alaska Division of Public Health.

In a report released this week, the committee reviewed all 16 maternal deaths in that time period and determined the deaths were related to causes that were treatable or avoidable.

A maternal death is defined as any death within one year of pregnancy due to any cause.

Causes included cardiovascular stress related to pre-eclampsia, stroke, and myocardial infarction. Nationally, these are the leading contributors to maternal mortality. Pregnant and postpartum patients are also susceptible to infection.

Other causes include the impacts of domestic violence, depression and substance abuse. Alcohol and substance abuse contribute to 63% of maternal deaths in Alaska.

The report also found that 75% of maternal deaths were from rural communities.

Early recognition of symptoms and treatment are key to preventing a maternal death.

Among the committee’s recommendations: improving screening procedures to detect health conditions and promoting implicit bias training.