Date Posted: April 8, 2024

The United States is experiencing alarming rates of pregnancy-related complications and death, resulting in a national maternal health crisis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that approximately 700 women die each year from conditions related to pregnancy and 50,000 women experience severe pregnancy-related complications, such as heart disease, stroke, blood clots, and depression. There are many research efforts dedicated to improving pregnancy and newborn outcomes. However, the majority of severe pregnancy-related complications and maternal deaths (from all causes, including health conditions and violence) occur in the postpartum period. Check out the most recent Office of Disease Prevention (ODP) Director’s Message, where ORWH Director Dr. Janine Clayton joined ODP Director Dr. David Murray and several other Directors from partnering NIH Institutes to address the maternal health crisis.

The Pathways to Prevention (P2P) workshop Identifying Risks and Interventions to Optimize Postpartum Health aims to address the maternal health crisis by identifying and closing research gaps in postpartum health. To organize the workshop, ORWH partnered with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities; and NIH Office of Disease Prevention. The workshop emphasizes how structural disparities, like differences in local infrastructure and access to care, increase African American, American Indian, and Alaska Native women’s risk of postpartum morbidity and mortality.

Two new reports from the workshop are now available! They describe current research activities and outline resources and opportunities for advancing research to predict and prevent poor postpartum health outcomes.

  • The Federal Partners Meeting Report highlights opportunities and resources to help federal agencies and the research community address the panel’s recommendations.
  • The Portfolio Review: Data Snapshot describes current NIH research activities in maternal health and maternal morbidity and mortality. It can be used to identify research and funding gaps and opportunities and will serve as a baseline to measure future progress.

The P2P workshop will continue to research, disseminate, and implement postpartum health initiatives in support of the ultimate mission: to make the U.S. the safest country in the world to give birth.