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TTUHSC Gets $1.47M Preeclampsia Research & Maternal Health Grant

Maternal Health


Maternal morbidity and mortality rates in Texas have surged over the past two decades, placing the state at the forefront of concerning statistics. Recent research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reveals the urgent need for maternal healthcare reform. To address this critical issue, the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) has been awarded a substantial $1.47 million grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This grant aims to combat the rising rates of preeclampsia and maternal mortality in specific Texas Panhandle counties.

Unveiling Alarming Statistics:

The study highlights a troubling trend, with maternal morbidity and mortality rates in Texas more than doubling from 1999 to 2019, exceeding both the national average and safety benchmarks. Factors contributing to this crisis include maternity care deserts, where counties lack essential maternal care services, and the alarming increase in preeclampsia cases—a condition characterized by high blood pressure and inflammation.

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Addressing Maternal Health Disparities:

To tackle these challenges head-on, a collaborative research coalition, led by Christine Garner, Ph.D., R.D., from TTUHSC, Julie St. John, Dr.P.H., from the Julia Jones Matthews School of Population and Public Health, and Stephanie Stroever, Ph.D., MPH, from the Division of Biostatistics, has received an NIH grant. This two-year project, named “Verifying and Implementing Evidence-Based Programs Addressing Needed Transformations for Maternal Health Outcomes, Measures, and Support” (VIBRANT MOMS), aims to reduce maternal health disparities, particularly in six Texas Panhandle counties.

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A Community-Centered Approach:

VIBRANT MOMS adopts an implementation science approach, focusing on evidence-based interventions and connecting underserved populations with essential care. It brings together a diverse coalition of community members, healthcare professionals, and nonprofit organizations to develop and implement strategies tailored to the unique needs of these counties.

Phase I: Data Collection and Needs Assessment:

The initial two-year Phase I of the project concentrates on data collection and assessing health needs in the designated counties. The coalition’s collaborative efforts will identify feasible and sustainable strategies for improving maternal health, with a strong emphasis on preventing preeclampsia.

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The Road Ahead:

Preventative measures, including low-dose aspirin and blood pressure control, play a pivotal role in reducing preeclampsia risk. VIBRANT MOMS will not only gather vital data but also strive to ensure these resources reach the women who need them most. Following the completion of Phase I, Phase II aims to implement the strategies developed and connect mothers with the necessary services and care.

A Vital Mission:

The TTUHSC-led research coalition is committed to addressing the pressing issue of maternal health disparities in the Texas Panhandle. Their collaborative efforts are poised to make a significant impact on the lives of expectant mothers in these underserved communities.

This research, funded in part by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), represents a critical step towards improving maternal health and reducing preeclampsia rates, ultimately safeguarding the well-being of mothers and infants.