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Methodological Issues in Maternal Mortality Research

NICHD R21 project seeks to clarify maternal mortality records

Faculty Associate Marian MacDorman will continue her research on maternal mortality data integrity. There’s a deficit in information regarding the U.S. mortality rate since 2007. This information is relevant since the United Nations Millennium Development Goal 5a was to reduce maternal mortality by 75% worldwide between 1990 and 2015. Dr. MacDorman’s study will determine which records are not maternal deaths and represent errors in data collection and coding by correctly excluding incidental causes of death according to the World Health Organization maternal mortality definition. In addition, supplementary coding methods will be developed to allow the cause of death data to be coded to specific organ systems, and this newly developed maternal mortality estimates will be compared to those from the previous inaccurately coded data. The second part of the project will use the newly developed data to analyze maternal mortality patterns by socio-demographic and health variables and cause of death. Expected contributions will include :

  • Better understanding of maternal mortality data quality.
  • Development of improved methods for analyzing maternal mortality data.
  • Concrete recommendations to improve data quality needed to restart production of U.S. maternal mortality rates.
  • More accurate estimation of U.S. maternal mortality rates and disparities by socio-demographic characteristics, cause of death, and region.

The ultimate goal of the project is to effectively target at-risk populations and plan prevention programs to reduce negative effects.