FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A team of researchers at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences has received a five-year, $15 million funding award to study postpartum follow ups with new mothers.

The study will specialize in finding how to lower maternal mortality and morbidity and was awarded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.

“The predominant model of care following discharge from delivery is an in-person visit scheduled around six weeks postpartum,” said Jennifer Callaghan-Koru, a principal investigator on the study and an associate professor in the UAMS Department of Internal Medicine.

“However, most postpartum maternal morbidity happens within the first six weeks after delivery, often within the first two weeks. Therefore, care at six weeks or later may be too late to prevent severe maternal morbidity and mortality,” Callaghan-Koru added.

The study will compare two postpartum care models by conducting a comparative evaluation with 1,500 low-income and racially/ethnically diverse women UAMS said.

Eligible patients will be pregnant women 18 to 44 years of age and will include women who speak English, Spanish or Marshallese.

UAMS says that the study is important work that could help save lives and prevent postpartum deaths in the future.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1,205 women died of maternal causes in the United States in 2021, compared with 861 in 2020 and 754 in 2019. The United States has a higher maternal mortality ratio than most other high-income nations, with more than half of maternal deaths occurring postpartum after hospital discharge,” a release from UAMS said.