7 THINGS TO KNOW

7 Things To Know About Maternal Mortality Surveillance and MMRCs

1. There are two sources for national estimates of maternal mortality.

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and the Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System (PMSS), both administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), produce national estimates.

2. Data from different national and state sources are not comparable.

NCHS, PMSS, and MMRCs each use a different definition related to deaths associated with pregnancy (the numerator for each respective ratio is different; refer to the Definitions page for more information).

3. MMRCs are the best way to count and understand maternal mortality in the United States.

MMRCs use a comprehensive process to identify every death that took place during pregnancy, childbirth, and the year postpartum. Further, PMSS and NCHS provide estimates based off information from vital records. Unlike MMRCs, they cannot point to specific factors that contributed to individual deaths or determine whether a death could have been prevented.

4. Maternal mortality review is both a process and a committee of individuals.

The process is a cycle to comprehensively identify, review, and analyze deaths during pregnancy, childbirth, and the year postpartum; disseminate findings; and act on results. The committee is a group of experts and stakeholders in maternal health that convene regularly to review deaths and identify key learnings and opportunities to prevent future deaths.

5. MMRCs operate primarily at the state level.

MMRCs operate at the state level because maternal mortality is rare. However, there are a few large city-level reviews.

6. Between 2015 and 2020, the number of MMRCs in the United States nearly doubled.

MMRCs have existed in the United States for more than a century. In recent years, growing national awareness of maternal mortality created by advocates and increased investment in technical assistance and standard data collection and analysis by CDC and national partners paved the way for more MMRCs to get off the ground.

7. A new program at CDC provides funding and technical assistance to state agencies and organizations to improve MMRCs.

This program is the Enhancing Reviews and Surveillance to Eliminate Maternal Mortality (ERASE MM) initiative. Congress authorized $12 million per year for the ERASE MM program through passage of the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act of 2018 (Pub.L. 115-344). Funding for the program is subject to annual appropriations by Congress to CDC’s Safe Motherhood and Infant Health funding line.


Learn

Learn the basics about Maternal Mortality Review Committees and key definitions

Practice

Apply tips, skills and best practices for high quality maternal mortality review processes

Implement

Explore guiding information and key considerations for the implementation of a review committee