ROGERS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Arkansas is one of the worst states for maternal health according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to a review panel of medical experts, 23 women in the state died due to pregnancy-related causes between 2018 and 2019.

The Arkansas Maternal Mortality Review Committee found 90% of those deaths were potentially preventable.

Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas and Mercy Hospital Fort Smith have joined the Arkansas perinatal quality collaborative.

That’s a group of hospitals around the state that work together to prevent unnecessary C-sections and keep patients safe.

“The bottom line here is reducing the risk of having a baby in Arkansas,” said OBGYN hospitalist Dr. James Smith. “We want moms and babies to have good outcomes. We want everybody to be safe, and we need to do everything we can to eliminate those risks.”

Smith says the maternal morbidity and mortality rates are good in Northwest Arkansas but are bad around the rest of the state.