Surgeon General, CT health officials hold summit on maternal health disparities


HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The U.S. Surgeon General and Connecticut Health Officials held a summit on maternal health disparities in Hartford on Tuesday.

RELATED: STUDY: Affordable Care Act linked to reduction in maternal deaths

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said Tuesday, “For the first time in history, women are more likely to die during childbirth than their mothers were.”

“It’s a combination of risk factors, chronic medical conditions, like diabetes, hypertension, socioeconomic factors,” said Dr. Uma Reddy, Professor of Obstetrics/Gynecology at Yale School of Medicine.

In 2016, Kira Dixon and Charles Johnson were excited to welcome their second child down in Georgia.

Johnson explained, “So we went in on what was supposed to be a routine c-section. We expected it to be the happiest day of our lives and it turned into a nightmare and the short story is that Kira was allowed to bleed internally for more than 10 hours while we begged and pleaded for help.”

After those 10 hours, Kira was finally taken into surgery but died on the operating table.

Now, Johnson tours the country telling his story with his nonprofit 4 Kira 4 Moms. He joined this group of doctors, advocates, and the U.S. Surgeon General at the Hartford Convention Center this morning for a summit on maternal health disparities.

In the U.S., the maternal mortality rate has risen by 26% from 2000 to 2014. For over a century, black women are three to four times more likely to die during childbirth than white women in the county.

Health advocates say where you live matters.

Dir. New Haven Healthy Start, Natasha Ray, said, “If I don’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables like folic acid is important when you’re pregnant and if I don’t even know what that is, education…all of those things matter.”

Johnson said until this stops, he will continue to fight in memory of Kira.

“For me, the highest honor I can pay my wife Kira is to make sure I do everything I can is to get other mothers home with their precious babies.”

To try and combat this issue, Connecticut passed legislation in 2018 to review all the medical records of moms who die during childbirth, but advocates at the summit Tuesday argue more can be done.

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