September 25, 2023

U.S. Maternal Deaths Rise as Health Disparities Increase; Local Resources Offer Support

A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has revealed significant increases in pregnancy-related deaths across the United States, with disproportionate losses among Black, Native American, and Alaska Native people.

About the Study

Entitled, “Trends in State-Level Maternal Mortality by Racial and Ethnic Group in the United States,” the study analyzed state-by-state census data from 1999 to 2019 on pregnant or recently pregnant individuals aged 10 to 54 years, to provide comprehensive evidence on maternal morbidity and to guide policies aimed at preventing maternal deaths.

Key Findings

Results revealed a stark spike in maternal mortality rates, with pregnancy-related deaths more than doubling among all racial and ethnic groups across the U.S. over the last 20 years, and more than tripling for Native American and Alaska Native people. However, maternal mortality remains the highest among the nation’s Black population, continuing historic trends.

Unfortunately, worsening healthcare for Black and BIPOC mothers—a trend typically relegated to southern states—is expanding. According to the study, New York and New Jersey saw an increase in Black and Latina deaths, while more Asian mothers died in Wyoming and Montana.

Supporting Information

In interviews with study authors and other medical professionals, WESA, an NPR affiliate, revealed the uniqueness of this upward trend, noting that other high-income countries have seen their maternal morbidity rates decline as a result of increasingly accessible healthcare.

Consequently, state review committees consider most maternal deaths preventable, as most deaths appear linked to untreated health conditions and complications. Thus, WESA sites researchers are advocating for improved access to care, which Medicaid may allow, as the program pays for about half of U.S. births.

Local Maternal Health Resources

Local programs and services may help new and expecting mothers in the Greater Pittsburgh Area and Pennsylvania. Some of these resources include:

Learn More

Find the status of local maternal health and learn about the state maternal morbidity review committee on the Pennsylvania Department of Health website.

To learn more, read the NPR and WESA article, “U.S. maternal deaths keep rising. Here’s who is most at risk.” 


Information for this post was taken directly from “Trends in State-Level Maternal Mortality by Racial and Ethnic Group in the United States”—a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)—and the NPR and WESA article, “U.S. maternal deaths keep rising. Here’s who is most at risk.” Text has been added, paraphrased, and adapted for reproduction, readability, and comprehension, and resources curated from a number of online sources.

Related Content & Resources


June 29, 2023

Resources for July Observances

Various organizations, states, and nations recognize a number of observances each month. Resources help parents, caregivers, and child care professionals acknowledge and navigate them.

Here is a list of resources for July observances:

Month-Long Observances

National Parks and Recreation Month

National Make a Difference to Children Month

National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

Days of Recognition

July 4 is Independence Day

July 14 is International Non-Binary People’s Day

July 24 is National Parents’ Day

July 25 is World Drowning Prevention Day

July 26 is National Disability Independence Day


April 27, 2023

Resources for May Observances

Various organizations, states, and nations recognize a number of observances each month. Resources help parents, caregivers, and child care professionals acknowledge and navigate them.

Here is a list of resources for May observances:

Month-Long Observances

May is National Foster Care Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Month

Weeks of Recognition

May 1 – 7 is Children’s Book Week

May 8 – 12 is National Teacher Appreciation Week

Days of Recognition

May 7 is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

May 12 is National Child Care Provider Appreciation Day

May 14 is Mother’s Day

May 28 is World Hunger Day


March 10, 2023

Talking with Families About Substance Use During Pregnancy

Expectant parents who struggle with substance use may not ask for help for various reasons. Judgment-free conversations about substance use can help expectant parents get the support they need to have a healthy pregnancy.

Join the Office of Head Start and its National Center on Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety for this webinar, and learn how to have compassionate and helpful conversations about substance use and recovery that lead to greater health equity.

This webinar is offered with simultaneous interpretation in Spanish.

Session Details

Thursday, March 23 | 1 – 2 p.m.



Learn More

In this webinar, Head Start will discuss:

  • how substance use affects the health of the expectant parent and baby
  • how to use motivational interviewing techniques to reduce stigma during conversations about substance use and recovery
  • why talking with expectant parents about substance use and recovery is important to achieving health equity

This webinar benefits:

  • Head Start and Early Head Start program staff, families, directors, managers, and administrators
  • Home visitors
  • Infant and early childhood mental health consultants

To learn more, visit the Head Start website.


Parenting While Black – Episode 2: Birthing While Black – Pregnancy, Birth, and the First 1,000 Days

Join the Brazelton Touchpoints Center for this webinar exploring protective pathways for embracing pregnancy, birth, postpartum experience, and fostering health, respect, care, joy, healing, and radical resistance.

Session Details

Monday, April 17 | 3 – 4:30 p.m.



Learn More

This webinar is part of the Brazelton Touchpoints Center’s Parenting While Black series, “Radically Resistant: Fostering the Brilliance and Awe of Raising Black Children.” This free virtual series offers a safe and welcoming space to hold conversations for and by Black families.

Each webinar includes live Spanish language translation and closed captioning.

Future episodes are scheduled as follows:
  • Episode 3: Monday, May 15, 3 – 4:30 p.m.
  • Episode 4: Monday, June 12, 3 – 4:30 p.m.
  • Episode 5: Monday, June 26, 3 – 4:30 p.m.

To learn more about Episode 1 or the Parenting While Black series, visit the Brazelton Touchpoints Center website.


February 23, 2023

EmployHER Pittsburgh Opportunity Fair

Join EmployHER Pittsburgh for this event supporting all types of female success.

Event Details

Monday, March 27 | 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. & 3 – 7 p.m.
University of Pittsburgh Community Engagement Center
622 North Homewood Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15208

Learn More

At the Opportunity Fair, attendees can find:

  • direct access to supportive services for themselves and their families

  • opportunities to enroll in personal and professional development training programs

  • on site interviews from employers Knichel Logistics, Inc. & University of Pittsburgh

  • connection with success partners in support of personal and professional goals

  • self care stations, food, a DJ and so much more

Free onsite child care will be provided. 

To learn more about the Opportunity Fair, visit the EmployHER website.


September 14, 2020

Hello Baby: A New Website for Parents in Allegheny County

For many new parents, particularly those with limited resources and support, welcoming a child to the family can be both a joy and a challenge. That’s why the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) created Hello Baby, a voluntary program for any Allegheny County family with a newborn or young child.

What is Hello Baby?

Hello Baby is a voluntary program for parents of new babies that is designed to strengthen families; improve children’s outcomes; and maximize child and family well-being, safety, and security.

Every new mother in Allegheny County will receive information about Hello Baby and may receive an initial visit from a nurse to talk about the program in more detail. Information will be available at primary birthing hospitals, obstetrician/gynecologist offices, and pediatric practices, and will be mailed to new mothers as a postcard.

Hello Baby will reach families with moderate to high levels of need through the existing network of Family Centers. However, any family can request services from a Family Center through the Hello Baby website, 2.1.1 warmline, or texting service. All services are voluntary.

Featured Information

The Hello Baby website was created for parents to quickly and easily find local resources and information on the following topics:

To learn more and view the full range of services, visit the Hello Baby website.

More Information

Hello Baby is a collaborative effort among family-focused organizations in Allegheny County including Allegheny County DHS, Health Department, Healthy Start, Family Centers, NurturePA, and the United Way of Southwestern PA. For more information, visit the DHS website or view answers to frequently asked questions.


August 7, 2020

Brown Mamas Launches Mama Mentorship Initiative

Are you interested in receiving advice, resource assistance, and emotional support from a mama mentor? Sign up to join Brown Mamas’ new Mama Mentorship program!


Motherhood can be tough, and it becomes even more challenging when you don’t have anyone to ask for advice, assist in resource acquisition, and lean on for mental and emotional support. That’s why Brown Mamas launched its Mama Mentorship Initiative. By galvanizing the collective knowledge in the Black mothering community, Brown Mamas will provide their moms with access to a group of mothering elders who have wisdom and experiences to share.

Once per month, Brown Mamas will host virtual Mama Mentoring sessions for up to 15 mamas. They will work with experienced moms from the local community to mentor new and ‘in the thick of it’ mamas through their motherhood journey. The first Mama Mentorship cohort begins in August.


If you are interested in joining Brown Mamas’ Mama Mentorship program, visit their website to complete the online signup form.

More Information

This information was provided by Brown Mamas. For more information, visit the Brown Mamas website.


April 15, 2019

Sign-On to Support Families Impacted by Postpartum Depression

Understanding the Need

Postpartum depression can strike any new mother. Research shows that approximately 15 percent of new mothers suffer from postpartum depression. In Pennsylvania, this means about 21,000 infants and moms are affected each year.

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that when a mother suffers from postpartum depression, both mothers and babies experience negative effects, including:

  • adverse effects on the baby’s brain and development,
  • increased danger of child abuse and neglect, and
  • increased medical care costs.

Will you sign-on to support Pennsylvania’s mothers and infants?

What is #StrongMomStrongBaby?

#StrongMomStrongBaby is a statewide effort to amend the existing early intervention law (Act 212 of 1990) to add postpartum depression as an at-risk condition allowing infants to undergo assessments, parents to receive assistance in bonding with their babies, and if needed, Early Intervention services to ensure moms and babies have the best start together.

To learn more and stay up-to-date, follow the campaign’s Facebook page.

Take Action

Show your support for Pennsylvania’s mothers and infants by adding your name to the #StrongMomStrongBaby petition.


April 8, 2019

BreastFED: Breastfeeding Summit

Join Healthy Start for BreastFED, Pennsylvania’s only regional breastfeeding summit. BreastFED is a two-day regional symposium aimed at providing information from professionals and community experts locally, regionally, and nationally on innovative approaches to address the needs of mothers and lactation practitioners in this region.

Throughout the two days, participants will receive both clinical and community perspectives and will be able to share insights and experiences to move forward with best practices and groundbreaking methods to changing the culture of feeding our babies.

See the full agenda.

Continuing Education Units & Credits

CEU’s are available for:

  • Lactation
  • Nursing
  • Social Work
  • Midwifery

This summit is approved for a maximum of 10.75 continuing nursing education contact hours.  The University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.

Learn More

To learn more about the summit and to register, visit the event website.

For any questions, contact Healthy Start by phone at 412.247.4009 or email at