May 21, 2024

State of Alabama
Press Release: Public Health, Alabama Department of

ADPH announces new maternal autopsy program


CONTACT: Lindsay Harris, B.S.N., R.N., (334) 206-9314

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) announces the implementation of the Maternal Autopsy Program. Alabama’s maternal mortality rate is one of the highest in the nation, and it is hoped that this new program will help gain greater insight into the cause of maternal deaths.

Since 2019, the ADPH Maternal Mortality Review Committee has been reviewing deaths that occur during or within a year of pregnancy. The committee determines the cause of death, contributing factors, and preventability. The committee also develops actionable recommendations to prevent future deaths. Obtaining the most detailed and accurate information is critical in making determinations regarding maternal deaths and reducing maternal mortality in Alabama. Approximately 50 percent of all maternal deaths do not have an autopsy performed. In partnership with the University of Alabama at Birmingham Pathology Department and the University of South Alabama Department of Pathology, ADPH has implemented the Maternal Autopsy Program.

Currently, the coroners in Baldwin, Jefferson, Madison, Marshall, Mobile, Montgomery, Shelby, and Walker counties participate in the Maternal Autopsy Program. Family members of women who died during pregnancy or up to a year after delivery are offered a complete autopsy free of charge if there is no one to perform the autopsy in their area, or they cannot afford one. The complete autopsies are performed at the University of Alabama at Birmingham or the University of South Alabama. ADPH plans to expand the availability of the Maternal Autopsy Program statewide in the coming months.

Increasing the percentage of autopsies performed on maternal deaths will help to understand the underlying causes of maternal mortality in Alabama, reduce future maternal deaths, and help bring answers to loved ones. Additional information about the Maternal Autopsy Program and the Maternal Mortality Review Program can be found at the State Perinatal Program.



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