Legislation targets maternal, infant mortality rates in Arkansas

Legislation targets maternal, infant mortality rates in Arkansas
A push to lower the infant and maternal mortality rates in Arkansas is underway. (Source: KARK)

LITTLE ROCK, AR (KAIT/KARK) - The push to bring down the state’s infant and maternal mortality rates has been introduced by a bipartisan group of women lawmakers in Little Rock.

As Little Rock television station KARK reports, Arkansas has one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the country.

Women lawmakers in the Senate and House agree that about half of these deaths are unnecessary and are working to figure out what is causing the deaths within the first year of birth.

The CDC is working on establishing Maternal Mortality Review Committees all over the country. House Bill 1440, which is working its way through the state Legislature, is seeking to create a committee in the state.

The group said one example could be designating certain Arkansas hospitals as places for high-risk mothers.

“If you look at infants, it’s birth defects, premature births,” said St. Rep. Deborah Ferguson (D-West Memphis). “It’s women who smoke, who are addicted to drugs. We know what a lot of the issues are, but really getting data to see exactly how many are dying of different things and being able to take action to correct that.”

Ferguson is one of 25 lawmakers in the state House and Senate who are sponsoring House Bill 1440.

The Arkansas group is working with DHS, the health department, UAMS, Children’s Hospital and others on research.

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