TYLER - A task force has found that pregnancy related deaths in Texas are at a higher rate than the rest of the country and most of the developed world. But, the task force is set to expire within the next few years, if lawmakers fail to pass legislation in the upcoming special session.
Gov. Greg Abbott added the topic to a list of 19 other items on the legislative agenda.
"I'm calling on the legislature to complete their work and to pass legislation to address the maternal mortality rate in Texas," Abbott said.
Created in 2013, the Maternal Mortality Task Force works to determine the causes of pregnancy related deaths and helps reduce the numbers statewide.
It's set to expire by 2019 and a bill to renew its efforts failed to pass this legislative session.
"This is not a political issue. This is about doing what we can to ensure the help of women who are pregnant," State Representative Matt Schaefer, R. Tyler, said.
According to the task force, the rate of maternal deaths almost doubled between 2010 and 2014. Medical experts say a range of issue are responsible.
"There's an increase in obesity. There's an increase in maternal age, women having children at a much later time in their life, and both of those things could definitely contribute," Dr. Frank Loyd, of Neighbors Emergency Center in Tyler said.
The task force focuses on deaths that occur within a year of giving birth. Cardiac events, drug overdose, hypertension and eclampsia are listed as the top causes.
"It's a disorder in pregnancy that deals with hypertension, seizures, swelling...swelling of the brain, which leads to seizures...and it's something that is screened for and treated very aggressively in pregnancy. However, it's not always controllable," Loyd said.
An issue that some lawmakers said must be addressed.
"If there's something that we can do, where there's an appropriate role for state government to intervene then we need to do that," Schaefer said.
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