Maternal and Infant Health

Arkansas has the highest maternal mortality rate in the nation, making it one of the riskiest places to have a baby. Our state also has the third-highest infant mortality rate, behind only Louisiana and Mississippi. This page highlights key statistics and other information about maternal and infant health in Arkansas. It is intended to raise awareness, promote discussion, and inform policymakers and stakeholders as they engage with this issue to make our state a healthier place for mothers and infants.

featured infographic

In an effort to raise awareness about Arkansas’s maternal and infant health challenges and suggest policy solutions, ACHI created this infographic depicting what a birthing journey for new mothers should be in order to achieve better maternal and infant health outcomes. 

Maternal mortality series

Radio station KUAF conducted three interviews with ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson for a series exploring in depth Arkansas’s high rate of maternal mortality. In the first episode, Dr. Thompson offers a general overview and discusses health issues prior to delivery. The second and third episodes focus on health issues during delivery and postpartum.

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KUAF | Ozarks at Large | Maternal Mortality Series: Episode 1
KUAF | Ozarks at Large | Maternal Mortality Series: Episode 2
KUAF | Ozarks at Large | Maternal Mortality Series: Episode 3

Maternal and Infant Health-Related Podcasts

Where You Lead: Dr. Creshelle Nash and Dr. Neel Shah

Wonks at Work goes national. In this episode, host Craig Wilson talks to national and state leaders about how we can better equip those who want to start families to have better outcomes. Our guests are Dr. Neel Shah, a national leader in maternal health and chief medical officer for Maven, a virtual clinic for women’s and family health; and Dr. Creshelle Nash, medical director for health equity and public programs at Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield. The conversation touches on policy levers that could improve maternal and infant health outcomes, the need to integrate telehealth into the ways we currently provide services, and how we can restore trust in science and public health.

Giving Birth in America: Arkansas

Arkansas had the highest maternal mortality rate across the United States as of early 2023. As the country faces a maternal health crisis, Every Mother Counts explored what that looks like on the ground by sharing the personal stories of three new Arkansas mothers in this recent documentary, Giving Birth in America: Arkansas.

Maternal and Infant Health-Related News Releases

For Maternal Health Awareness Day, ACHI Highlights State’s Rock-Bottom Ranking

LITTLE ROCK ― (Jan. 22, 2023) In recognition of Maternal Health Awareness Day, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement said Monday it is seeking to raise awareness of Arkansas’ ranking as the least healthy state for moms.

“Arkansas has the highest maternal mortality rate in the nation, and our teen pregnancy and infant mortality rates are nearly the highest,” said ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson. “This is unacceptable. With a new administration and General Assembly, the time is ripe for a concerted effort to improve maternal health in Arkansas.”

Screening All Pregnant Women for Hepatitis C Would Reduce Child Deaths

LITTLE ROCK ― (Feb. 24, 2021) Adding hepatitis C screening for pregnant women in Arkansas would reduce child deaths from that disease, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement said Wednesday.

With state policy on hepatitis C screenings a topic of discussion in the current legislative session, ACHI noted that in 2019 its Health Policy Board adopted a statement in support of efforts to promote screening, prevention and education related to infectious diseases including hepatitis C.