Arkansas has the third highest maternal mortality rate in the country, meaning only two states have more women, per capita who die from complications during pregnancy, or giving birth.

State Representative Greg Leding proposed a study today to research  the problems Arkansas women go through during pregnancy and child birth. And as a husband and a father, this issue hits close to home 

Rep. Greg Leding (D) 86th District, “Seeing that Arkansas had the third highest rate of maternal mortality in the country was shocking.”

According to United Health Foundation’s 2016 Health of Women and Children Report., for every 100,000 pregnancies in Arkansas, 35 of those women die.

“It was disappointing, especially because my wife and I have a young daughter and we just went through her pregnancy and it was alarming,” said Leding. 

Arkansas State Representative Greg Leding says the root causes stem from multiple health issues including smoking, obesity and food insecurity.

“We are a very rural state. About 15% of Americans live in rural areas, here in Arkansas it’s 42%. So if you don’t have access to healthcare and don’t have enough to eat those two problems right there seem significant to me,” said Leding. 

So today, Leding formed a core group of doctors at UAMS to start a Maternal Mortality Review Committee. The group, comprised of doctors,  will study death cases and look for practical solutions for women who have complications while pregnant. 33 other states have similar committees. Dr. Jill Mhyre of UAMS says the group can help improve maternal care for women in Arkansas.

In a statement she says, “Just like the FAA reviews airline crashes, it can be incredibly useful to review the complex sequence of events leading up to each maternal death.”

The committee, once fully formed, will be looking for pregnant volunteers to help them with their research. Rep. Leding and Dr, Mhyre say it may be about a year before the Maternal Mortality Review Committee presents its findings.