Each year, thousands of women around the world die or suffer long-term consequences from what are often preventable pregnancy-related complications. Although the global maternal mortality rate has dropped in the last 30 years, not all countries and regions are making the same kind of progress, according to a study coordinated by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

A variety of factors influence the health of an expectant mother, from access to health care and nutrition to social and economic inequities. The following are a few examples of what faculty and staff at the University of Washington are doing to better understand these and other factors and improve maternal health:

  • Mama Amaan (Safe Motherhood) Project, a pilot program between the Somali Health Board and the UW, that seeks to provide culturally appropriate pre- and post-natal support for mothers in East African immigrant and refugee communities in King County.
  • Salud Mesoamérica Initiative is a public-private partnership whose work is supported by IHME, an independent population health research center at the UW. The initiative’s goal is to improve maternal and child health in eight countries across Central America by reducing disparities.
  • Researchers at the School of Public Health are studying the links between a mother’s employment status during her pregnancy and a baby’s weight at birth. Their recent study showed that women who work in jobs with unpredictable schedules and a lack of benefits have a higher risk of delivering babies with lower birth weights.