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CDC Awards Arizona $450,000 To Study Maternal Mortality

blankets on the Capitol lawn represent recent mothers that have died in Arizona
Mariana Dale/KJZZ
/
editorial | staff
The baby blankets spread on the Arizona Capitol lawn in January 2019 by the March of Dimes represented newborns left without mothers in the state.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has awarded the Arizona Department of Health Services $450,000 a year for the next five years to study maternal deaths.

New moms in the United States die at higher rates than anywhere else in the developed world.

In Arizona, an average of 20 new moms die a year — 89% of those deaths are preventable, according to research from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

“While we’ve had the authority to do maternal mortality review since 2011 ... we haven’t had any dedicated funding to that at all,” said Sheila Sjolander, an assistant director for prevention services in the state’s health agency.

The effort relied on existing staff. Sjolander said the grant will pay to hire people who will analyze data and implement recommendations.

“That will be incredibly helpful to have somebody whose job it is to get up everyday and think about the health of moms and moms to be in the state,” Sjolander said.  

Legislation signed into law this summerrequires an advisory committee to submit recommendations to improve how Arizona collects information about maternal deaths by the end of the year.

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Mariana Dale rustles up stories as a senior field correspondent based out of KJZZ’s East Valley Bureau in Tempe. She’s followed a microphone onto cattle ranches, to the Dominican Republic and many places in between. Dale believes in a story’s strength to introduce us to diverse perspectives, inspire curiosity and hold public leaders accountable for their actions. She started at KJZZ on the digital team in 2016 and still spends a lot of time thinking about how to engage with our community online. Dale has learned from stints at Arizona Public Media, The Arizona Daily Star, The Arizona Republic and as an intern at NPR’s Morning Edition in Culver City. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Dale is grateful for the mentoring of the New York Times Student Journalism Institute, the Chips Quinn Scholars program and AIR’s New Voices Scholars. A desert native, she loves spending time outside hiking, tending to her cactus and reading.