NPR, ProPublica Investigate Surge in Maternal Mortality and Near Deaths in the U.S. In a joint investigation available today, NPR and ProPublica examine why more American women are dying in childbirth at a higher rate than in any other developed country.
NPR logo NPR, ProPublica Investigate Surge in Maternal Mortality and Near Deaths in the U.S.

NPR, ProPublica Investigate Surge in Maternal Mortality and Near Deaths in the U.S.

Renee Montagne returns with "Lost Mothers," airing today and continuing next week, looking at who these women are and why they're dying

Friday, May 12, 2017; Washington D.C. - In a joint investigation available today, NPR and ProPublica examine why more American women are dying in childbirth at a higher rate than in any other developed country.

The first installment in the series airs today on Morning Edition at approximately 5 AM (ET). Stations and broadcast times are available at www.npr.org/stations. The reporting is also available on NPR.org and at ProPublica.

Every year, 700 to 900 American women die in the US from pregnancy related causes, and 65,000 nearly die. They are three times more likely to die in childbirth than women in Canada, and six times more likely than Scandinavian women. NPR special correspondent Renee Montagne and ProPublica gender and sexuality reporter Nina Martin spent more than six months investigating this surge in maternal deaths in the U.S. — at a time when developed countries from England to South Korea saw their numbers plunge.

In their investigation, Montagne and Martin discovered hospitals — including those with intensive care units for newborns — can be woefully unprepared for a maternal emergency. A review of federal and state funding revealed that only six percent of block grants for "maternal and child health" actually go toward mothers' care.

NPR and ProPublica uncovered a hodge-podge of hospital protocols for dealing with potentially fatal complications, which in some cases allowed treatable complications to proceed to a lethal level. At the same time, some doctors entering the growing specialty of "Maternal-Fetal medicine" were able to complete that training without ever spending time in a labor-delivery unit.

NPR and ProPublica have previously partnered to deliver deep investigative reporting on the American Red Cross' relief response in Haiti and America's vanishing worker protection laws, which won an Edward J Murrow award last year.

About ProPublica
ProPublica is an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. In 2010, it was the first online news organization to win a Pulitzer Prize. In 2011, ProPublica won its second Pulitzer, the first ever awarded to a body of work that did not appear in print. In 2016 the newsroom won a third Pulitzer, and in 2017 it won its fourth. In 2014, ProPublica won a MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Leadership. ProPublica is supported primarily by philanthropy and offers its articles for republication, both through its website and directly to leading news organizations selected for maximum impact.

About NPR
NPR's rigorous reporting and unsurpassed storytelling connect with millions of Americans every day—on the air, online, and in person. NPR strives to create a more informed public—one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas, and cultures. With a nationwide network of award-winning journalists and 17 international bureaus, NPR and its Member Stations are never far from where a story is unfolding. Listeners consider public radio an enriching and enlightening companion; they trust NPR as a daily source of unbiased independent news, and inspiring insights on life and the arts. More information at npr.org/aboutnpr and following NPR Extra on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Allyssa Pollard & Isabel Lara / mediarelations@npr.org

ProPublica Public Relations
Minhee Cho / Minhee.Cho@propublica.org