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Last week, the Women’s Fund partnered with Dell Medical School’s Society for Health and Women to discuss the issue of maternal mortality in Central Texas. The big question on everyone’s mind: why are pregnancy and childbirth so much deadlier in the U.S. than in other advanced countries? Here’s what’s being done in Austin to address the issue.

The Data:

2012 was reported to be the year when maternal mortality rates in Texas skyrocketed. In fact, Texas was thought to have the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. It turns out, the data was wrong, but the numbers are still high.

Earlier this year, the Texas maternal mortality task force released a report in the medical journal, Obstetrics & Gynecology, which reanalyzed the 2012 data under a new methodology. They found that the number of women in Texas who died due to pregnancy-related deaths in 2012 was 56, previously reported to be 147. In 2016, the national average of pregnancy-related deaths was 20.

Changing the Numbers:

Proper care for women before, during, and after pregnancy is a difficult task and there isn’t one solution that can solve the maternal mortality issue. It takes a team working together to spot individual traits and concerns that have the potential to lead to a higher risk of maternal mortality.Dr. Amy Young and her team describe their work in the Department for Women’s Health at UT Austin and how they come together to provide holistic care for women.

  • “We need to approach family planning as a public health need. That starts by training our doctors to address family planning at all touch points in healthcare.”


Dr. Lauren Thaxton
UT Health Austin Care Team Member
Assistant Professor, Department of Women’s Health

  • “Caring for mothers throughout perinatal and post-partum stages is crucial. In fact, 60% of mood disorders during the perinatal stages of pregnancy go undiagnosed, which directly relates to some of the leading causes of maternal mortality; suicide and overdose.”


Dr. Ashley Choucroun
Assistant Professor, Department of Women’s Health
Assistant Professor, Department of Population Health

  • “The human body is a complex system. There are more molecules in the human body than there are stars in the universe. Through partnerships across campus, particularly in Data Science, we’ve been able to use existing data with machine learning to better predict signs of risk.”


Dr. Radek Bukowski
Associate Chair for Investigation and Discovery, Department of Women’s Health
Professor, Department of Women’s Health

Panelists included (from left to right): Dr. Amy Young, Dr. Lauren Thaxton, Dr. Ashley Choucroun and Dr. Radek  Bukowski

Thank you again to Dell Medical School, the panelists and everyone who attended for your support and hard work in our community. Keep up with the research being done in this area by the Department of Women’s Health.

Want to get involved? Learn how you can support women across Central Texas by investing in the Women’s Fund.