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Jaime Herrera Beutler Advances Maternity Care Caucus Priorities in U.S. House Spending Bill

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Washington, DC, July 21, 2017 | comments
Last night, Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler secured provisions in the House Appropriations Committee’s Labor, Health and Human Services’ funding bill to increase research and funding to support maternal health care issues. Specifically, Jaime’s provisions included funding to support maternal mental health, the convening of experts to make recommendations for prenatal screening educational materials, and new breastfeeding and pregnancy related research.
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This week, Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler secured provisions in the House Appropriations Committee’s Labor, Health and Human Services’ funding bill to increase research and funding to support maternal health care issues. Specifically, Jaime’s provisions included funding to support maternal mental health, the convening of experts to make recommendations for prenatal screening educational materials, and new breastfeeding and pregnancy related research.

“Having a new baby can be the best thing in the world, but it can also be one of the most challenging times in a mother’s life, especially when she is confronted with pregnancy complications or postpartum depression,” said Jaime. “I am grateful to partner with Representatives Roybal-Allard and Clark on this critical, timely and bipartisan legislation that supports better science, research and funding to improve maternal health.”

Jaime and Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard cofounded the Maternity Care Caucus nearly two years ago to raise awareness about important and timely maternity care related issues and improve America’s maternity care system. Since then, they have collaborated with their colleagues in the Caucus to pass multiple legislative solutions aimed at improving the health and well-being of moms and babies across the country.

How Jaime’s amendments support maternal health care:

·         Postpartum Depression: Jaime partnered with Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA) to provide funds helps secure funding to better screen mothers for postpartum depression.

·         Prenatal Screening Education: Cell-free DNA prenatal screenings are used to signal whether a baby is at risk for chronic abnormalities – but are not diagnostic and can produce false alarms up to 50% of the time.

To ensure patients and their healthcare providers are educated about these screenings, Jaime’s directive builds on an earlier bill she introduced, the Accurate Education for Prenatal Screenings Act. It asks the Maternal and Child Health Bureau to convene a meeting of federal and public expert stakeholders representing health care professionals, industry, and patient voices to build consensus around what educational materials should contain in order to help patients and health care providers better understand the accuracy of prenatal screenings.

  • Pregnancy-Related Research at NIH: This provision requests the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provide Congress with a report on all pregnancy-related research across their 27 institutes and centers, as well as how NIH might better address questions related to pregnancy.

·        Breastfeeding Related Research: Jaime’s provision urges the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to establish the national Consortium on Breastfeeding Research that was recommended by the Surgeon General. 

Additional Background on Provisions:

Postpartum Depression: One out of seven moms experience postpartum depression, and while it’s mostly treatable with a combination of counseling and medication, it often goes undetected.   The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists report, “It is important to identify pregnant and postpartum women with depression because untreated perinatal depression and other mood disorders can have devastating effects on women, infants, and families.”  Some consequences of maternal depression include poor bonding between mother and infant, which may have negative effects on cognitive development, social-emotional development, and behavior of the child.

Prenatal Screening Education: The technology that allows parents to know whether a baby is at risk of a chromosomal abnormality is advancing rapidly. Women and families may be presented with the option of non-invasive prenatal screenings (NIPS). However, patient education materials related to NIPS often lag behind fast-moving NIPS technological advancements.  These screenings are not diagnostic, since they are not reliable enough to confirm an abnormality. Studies have revealed that screenings can produce false alarms up to 50% of the time.

Pregnancy-Related Research at NIH: Each year, approximately four million women give birth in the U.S., yet the U.S. is ranked 47th globally for its maternal mortality rate and unlike any other industrialized country, its rates are on the rise. Research related to pregnancy is essential to learning more about the health and development of both mother and baby, but this research lags behind other disease-specific research. 

Breastfeeding Related Research: Breastfeeding has benefits for both moms and babies. In 2011, the Surgeon General recommended the development of a national consortium on breastfeeding research to identify key priorities in a national research agenda, promote the dissemination of research findings, and foster the timely translation of research into practice.  Although nominations were solicited, the consortium was never convened. 

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