Pregnancy-related deaths in the US have been on the rise since 1987, with maternal mortality highest among Black, American Indian, and Alaska Native women, who are three times as likely to die than white women. According to new research, women Veterans who receive VA care also have an increased risk of pregnancy-related mortality. On November 30, President Biden signed into law the Protecting Moms Who Served Act, part of which will create a $15 million program to support maternal care in the VA healthcare system. This Act is the first piece of legislation from the “Momnibus” – a wider legislative package created to help improve care for pregnant women, particularly minority women.
Deirdre Quinn, PhD, MS, MLitt, part of HSR&D’s Center for Health Equity Research & Promotion (CHERP), is conducting research on the impact of pre-pregnancy health risks on maternal outcomes among women Veterans. Her findings suggest that pregnancy-related deaths among Veterans using VA healthcare are nearly double the national rate. These findings were cited in testimony related to the Protecting Moms Who Served Act, sponsored by Senators Tammy Duckworth and Susan Collins, and Representative Lauren Underwood.
Dr. Quinn is supported by an HSR&D Career Development Award (CDA), which focuses on individual- and community-level influences on sexual and reproductive health. More specifically, she is examining how links between women Veterans' pre-pregnancy health risks (e.g., chronic conditions) and healthcare experiences, social characteristics (e.g., race/ethnicity, rurality), and maternal outcomes can inform interventions to improve women Veterans' healthcare.
VA covers full maternity care from the time of the first positive pregnancy test through delivery and follow-up appointments. VA also covers the first seven days of newborn care.