Joyce Introduces Legislation to Improve Maternal Health, Reduce Stillbirths in the U.S.

Jul 27, 2023
Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) introduced two pieces of legislation to improve maternal health outcomes and reduce the rate of stillbirths in the United States. 

The Stillbirth Health Improvement and Education (SHINE) for Autumn Act, introduced alongside Representatives Young Kim (CA-40), Kathy Castor (FL-14), and Robin Kelly (IL-02), aims to prevent stillbirth through enhanced data collection, research, education, and awareness by creating the first comprehensive, federal-state partnership to reduce stillbirth rates in the United States. 

The Tech to Save Moms Act, introduced alongside Representatives Lauren Underwood (IL-14) and Nikema Williams (GA-05), makes investments in evidence-based digital to reduce maternal mortality, severe maternal morbidity, and maternal health disparities.

“Ohio has one of the country’s highest stillbirth rates and fails to show meaningful signs of improvement,” said Rep. Dave Joyce. “We must leverage federal resources to prevent this continued, yet avoidable loss of life. These bipartisan bills take critical steps in stillbirth prevention by funding enhanced research, training, and improved technology. I am proud to lead these efforts with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to save lives in our communities.”

Background: 

  • While other countries across the world have made strides in reducing the number of pregnancies that end in stillbirth, which occurs when a child is born deceased, the United States has failed to make similar progress. Stillbirth rates across the country have remained relatively stagnant, with the number of stillbirths recorded annually falling a mere 0.5% over the past 15 years, placing the U.S. at 183rd out 195 countries in terms of improvement over that period of time. In total, 21,000 babies die as a result of a stillbirth in the United States every year; more than the number of children aged 0-14 who die from sudden infant death syndrome, accidents, drownings, guns, fires and the flu combined. 
  • While data recorded at the national level points to stagnating performance improvements, the data on still births in the state of Ohio paints an even more challenging picture. In 2022, Ohio ranked 10th in the nation in terms of the percentage of children who die as a result of a still birth. In 2020, the national rate of stillbirth was 5.6 in 1,000 babies, whereas in Ohio during the same year the rate was 6.7 per 1,000 babies. In Northeast Ohio, both Trumbull and Ashtabula counties have still birth rates above the state and national average. 
  • A study published this year in the Lancet Medical Journal suggested that 25% of all stillbirths could be prevented, and specifically noted that a lack of improvement in data collection has stymied efforts to research new prevention strategies for stillbirths. In the US, vital records, also known as fetal death certificates, are the only national source of data, but definitions of terms used on the records vary by state and the records themselves can suffer from poor quality and accuracy.

The SHINE for Autumn Act was introduced in the Senate by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Cory Booker (D-NJ). 

The Tech to Save Moms Act was introduced in the Senate by Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ). 

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