Professors, Community Leader Discuss High Maternal Mortality Rate in New Podcast

Headshots of (From left) The School of Nursing’s Betty Braxter, School of Medicine’s Sonya Borrero, Graduate School of Public Health’s Dara Mendez and Healthy Start CEO Jada Shirriel artistically composed over a background of a knitted baby blanket in shades of pink, blue and yellow.In the United States, an estimated 700 to 900 women die of complications related to childbirth each year, and at least 60,000 women nearly die of pregnancy-related complications.

African American mothers are four times more likely to die or nearly die as a result of pregnancy than white mothers. And of all these deaths and near-deaths, it's likely that 70 percent are preventable.

Spurred by a ProPublica/NPR investigative effort into these statistics, Pitt Med magazine sat down with the CEO of Healthy Start, a community group charged with improving maternal and child health in Allegheny County, and three Pitt professors who’ve been appointed to Pennsylvania’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee to get their perspectives on why new mothers are dying at an alarming rate and what can be done to spare families from these tragedies.

The panel:

  • Betty Braxter, assistant professor of health promotion and development, School of Nursing
  • Sonya Borrero, associate professor of medicine; of clinical and translational science; and of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences; director, Center for Women’s Health Research and Innovation at the School of Medicine
  • Dara Mendez, assistant professor of epidemiology, Graduate School of Public Health
  • Jada Shirriel, chief executive officer, Healthy Start 

Read the interview in the latest issue of Pitt Med, or listen to the conversation at Pitt Medcast — the magazine’s podcast: