Group aims to tackle issues surrounding maternal, infant deaths in Hawaii

Group aims to tackle issues surrounding maternal, infant deaths in Hawaii

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Studies show that there are about 10 to 15 maternal deaths each year in Hawaii, and that the U.S. has the worst maternal mortality rate in the developed world.

Out of the roughly 19,000 babies born in the Aloha State for example, studies show that 40 percent are sleeping with their parents.

Many of these findings are coming out of the state health department's Child Death and Maternal Mortality Reviews, where multiple partners including hospitals, the University of Hawaii's John A. Burns School of Medicine and government agencies meet regularly to try to prevent these deaths.

For Dr. Scott Harvey, an obstetric intensivist at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, practicing a real-life situation is important to saving lives. Obsesity, the age of mothers, and other health conditions are possible health factors when considering maternal deaths.

"The question is, why are people dying?," Harvey said. "If we can find out why, hopefully we can initiate programs statewide to prevent it."

Doctors are also concerned about the number of unexpected infant deaths in Hawaii.

"For all the families that have experienced the death of their infant, it's a lifelong tragedy," said Dr. Bob Pantell, a pediatrician at Kapiolani Medical Center.

In 2016, 18 infants in Hawaii died unexpectedly.

"Fifteen of the 18 [infant] deaths were in bed with their parents, and most likely [suffocated] as a result of being rolled over by their parents," said Dr. Pantell.

Pantell says one item to keep a newborn safe is a Baby Box, a baby bed made out of decorated cardboard with a mattress. The box does not have pillows, blankets or stuffed animals — all of which could suffocate the baby.

The simple item is popular in Finland, and is starting to catch on in Hawaii.

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