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Interim health committee meets on maternal and infant care in the state.

Dr. Laura Mook speaking to members of the committee
Wyoming Legislature
Dr. Laura Mook speaking to members of the committee

The Wyoming legislature's Labor, Health and Social Services Committee met Wednesday morning to discuss maternal and infant services, pregnancy and newborn outcomes in the state.

The Wyoming Department of Health shared they have joined forces with Utah to create the first Maternity Mortality Review Committee. Between 2018 and 2020, there were 13 pregnancy related deaths in the state. Twelve were reviewed by the committee. Preliminary data shows the largest contributing factors to pregnant women dying is the lack of access to health care or lack of financial resources to access the appropriate care.

Three mothers lost insurance coverage before the time of death. Franz Fuchs, policy analyst with the Wyoming Department of Health, said that is an important factor to the big picture.

"I think access to coverage would be kind of like the tinder or the dryness, in that fire," said Fuchs. "Compared to maybe not causally causing that but maybe contributing to the layer…causes that potentially have to be considered."

Fuchs said these numbers are the preliminary numbers and cautioned the results need to be taken with a grain of salt because of such a small sample size. The final report will be released in July.

The committee also continued their discussion on how to reduce the number of substance use exposure in infants. A bill that classifies use of methamphetamine or narcotics by a pregnant woman as child endangerment failed in the senate this past legislative session.

Dr. Laura Mook addressed the committee about her personal experience as a pediatrician in Fort Washakie. Mook told members that she is seeing more and more pregnant women coming in without having any prenatal care.

"I do think that having no prenatal care often for me is a sign that something else was going on in their pregnancy, some other mental health disorders, substance use disorder," she said.

She said the legislature's proposed bill to criminalize women who have a substance use problem while being pregnant would make the problem even worse since women would be scared to get any care.

Representatives from Wyoming Association of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Centers (WAMHSAC), Wyoming Medical Society, Legislative Service Office and the Wyoming Hospital Association spoke to the committee members about data and problems of pregnancy outcomes, newborn care and Medicaid postpartum coverage.

Kamila has worked for public radio stations in California, New York, France and Poland. Originally from New York City, she loves exploring new places. Kamila received her master in journalism from Columbia University. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the surrounding areas with her two pups and husband.
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