The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) is excited to work with the National Library of Medicine on NIH MedlinePlus magazine to highlight research to reduce pregnancy-related complications and deaths and ensure healthy outcomes for mothers and their children.
This issue’s cover star is Olympic sprinter Allyson Felix, who is the most decorated American track and field athlete in Olympic history. She shares her story of being diagnosed with severe preeclampsia, a life-threatening, pregnancy-related disorder that results in high blood pressure and multiple organ failures. Allyson's diagnosis led to the birth of her daughter, Camryn, by emergency cesarean section two months early. Happily, both Allyson and Camryn are thriving today, but their experience underscores the urgent need to address the maternal health crisis in the U.S.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 700 women in the U.S. die each year of complications from pregnancy or giving birth, and such deaths are more likely to occur among Black and American Indian/Alaska Native women, compared with white women. Most of these deaths are preventable.
Understanding and reducing pregnancy-related complications and deaths is a high priority for NIH. In this issue, we share NICHD-funded research on reducing health disparities related to pregnancy and childbirth and on improving pregnancy outcomes to maximize the lifelong health of women and their children. We also highlight how research is helping to inform medical care for pregnant people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I often say that pregnancy acts as a stress test that can predict a woman's health in later life. It also plays a significant role in the lifelong health of her child or children. Researchers at NICHD and other institutions remain committed to generating robust scientific evidence to guide clinical care and eliminate health disparities during pregnancy and childbirth and after delivery.
Thank you for reading!
Diana W. Bianchi, M.D.