July 11, 2023

Cassidy, Merkley, Hinson, Adams Team Up to Sound the Alarm on the Silent Stillbirth Crisis

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and U.S. Representatives Ashley Hinson (R-IA-02) and Alma Adams (D-NC-12) introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Maternal and Child Health Stillbirth Prevention Act of 2023. One out of 75 U.S. births tragically result in stillbirths, accounting for nearly 21,000 stillbirths a year—more stillbirths annually than the number of babies who pass during the first year of life.

 “Every life is precious,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Increasing access to stillbirth prevention saves the lives of babies and mothers.” 

“Stillbirth upends the lives of individuals and families from all demographics across the United States—increasing the risk of maternal mortality and morbidity, and devastating parents and families,” said Senator Merkley. “Nearly 1 in 4 stillbirths are potentially preventable, and it is disturbing that the rate of stillbirth is considerably higher in Black, American Indian, and Alaska Native women. With the tremendous advances we’ve made in modern medicine, we have the capability to do much more, and we should be doing everything we can to prevent any American from experiencing stillbirth.”

 “My heart breaks for any mother and family that has endured the tragedy of stillbirth, the unexpected loss of a baby after 20 or more weeks of pregnancy. Improving access to maternal care – especially in rural areas where women may have to drive an hour or more to see an OBGYN – is critical to preventing stillbirths and reducing maternal mortality,” said Representative Hinson. “Our bipartisan bill will help ensure expecting moms can receive quality pre-natal care and save lives.”

“For too long, stillbirth has been a silent crisis, but almost 21,000 babies are stillborn every year. According to a recent study, nearly 1 in 4 stillbirths are potentially preventable, and the United States is trailing other countries in making progress,” said Representative Adams. “That is why I am proud to introduce the bipartisan and bicameral Maternal and Child Health Stillbirth Prevention Act of 2023 with Senators Merkley and Cassidy, as well as Representative Hinson. All available data suggests we can make progress, as well as lower the disproportional rates of stillbirth among Black women and minority parents. The Maternal and Child Health Stillbirth Prevention Act will address this injustice, so more babies experience a healthy birth and make it home with their families. These babies – and their mamas – can’t wait.”

Recent reports and data suggest that further reduction in the incidence of stillbirth is possible, highlighting that nearly 25% of stillbirths are potentially preventable. The Maternal and Child Health Stillbirth Prevention Act will help bring down the shockingly high rate of stillbirths and maternal mortality in the United States.

Alarmingly, in our nation, approximately 21,000 babies are stillborn every year. This is greater than the number of babies that die during the first year of life and more than ten times the number of babies that die annually due to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Data comparing the United States to other countries shows that our nation can and must do more to prevent stillbirth. In the last two decades, the stillbirth rate in the United States declined by a negligible 0.4 percent, and, in a report published by the World Health Organization comparing progress in improving stillbirth rates, the United States ranked 183 out of 195 countries.

The Maternal and Child Health Stillbirth Prevention Act of 2023 amends Title V, the Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant of the Social Security Act, to clarify that stillbirth prevention activities and research are an allowable use of funds. This clarification will support stillbirth prevention activities, thereby saving the lives of mothers and babies.

Cassidy and Merkley were joined by U.S. Senators Angus King (I-ME), Jim Risch (R-ID), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Chuck Grassley ((R-IA), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Steve Daines (R-MT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Rick Scott (R-FL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) in cosponsoring the legislation.

The Maternal and Child Health Stillbirth Prevention Act is endorsed by Healthy Birth Day, 1st Breath, Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health (formerly 2020 Mom), 2 Degrees Foundation, Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP), March of Dimes, Measure the Placenta, Mom Congress, PUSH for Empowered Pregnancy, “Reproductive and Placental Research Unit, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Yale University School of Medicine”, Return to Zero: H.O.P.E., Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM), American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Every Mother Counts, Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), Start Healing Together, M.E.N.D. (Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death), Society for Reproductive Investigation (SRI), American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), What to Expect Project, Postpartum Support International, Amniotic Fluid Embolism (AFE) Foundation, National Education Association (NEA), Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH), National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health (NPWH), Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance, SUDC Foundation, and RH Impact.