News·4 min read

Daily Skimm: Maternal Mortality, Russia, and Adam Levine

Unrecognizable person places hand on a mother's shoulder as she offers comfort and support.
Getty Images
September 21, 2022

Things Going on in the Health World

Maternal Mortality 

The Story

Most pregnancy-related deaths in the US are preventable. 

Tell me.

A new report by the CDC found that 4 out of 5 women who died during pregnancy, delivery, or even up to a year postpartum, could’ve been avoided. More than half of those deaths happen between a week to a year after birth. Health experts say wider access to insurance coverage to improve prenatal care, transportation to care, and better referral and coordination systems could help prevent pregnancy-related deaths. There’s also a recommendation that apparently needs reminding: listening to mothers and getting them the care they need.

What’s driving the deaths?

Mental health conditions — including deaths linked to suicides and overdoses — were the leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths among pregnant women and new moms (23%). Hemorrhaging (14%) and heart conditions (13%) followed closely behind. But the underlying causes also depend on race and ethnicity. Think: Heart conditions were the most common cause of death in Black women, mental health conditions for Hispanic people, and hemorrhaging for Asians.


The US has the highest rate of maternal deaths compared to other wealthy countries. And to know many of those lives lost could be prevented could be a wake-up call for change.

Routine For All

The Story

Experts are encouraging routine screening for anxiety.

That's a first.

It is for the US Preventive Services Task Force. That’s a volunteer group of health experts, who play a key role in influencing what preventive services should be covered by insurance. In draft recommendations, the Task Force wants primary care physicians to screen adults ages 19-64 for anxiety during routine visits — even if they’re not showing symptoms. Primary care physicians don’t often recognize anxiety disorders, which can contribute to a decades-long delay in getting treatment. Problem, because anxiety disorders affect about 40% of US women. And about 1 in 10 pregnant and postpartum women report experiencing anxiety.

And screening will help?

Even short questionnaires can help ID anxiety disorders. And most insurance companies cover preventive services recommended by the Task Force — which might include psychotherapy and antidepressant or anti-anxiety meds. But some doctors worry that adding anxiety screenings could further strain mental health providers already struggling to meet patient demand. The proposal is open for public comment but the group usually goes ahead and affirms its draft.


Anxiety affects millions of Americans each year. Now, this new recommendation could make primary care physicians one of the first layers of defense in recognizing and treating anxiety disorders.

And Also...This

Where the law is being laid down…

Minnesota. Yesterday, the Justice Dept charged 47 people — including gov and nonprofit employees — in what it called the largest gov pandemic aid fraud to date. In this case, the defendants are accused of stealing $250 million from a federal program serving meals to low-income children. Prosecutors say they created shell companies claiming to offer meals to tens of thousands of children across the state. They then sought reimbursement from the gov and spent the money on cars, jewelry, and properties. The alleged ringleader has pleaded not guilty. Now, the DOJ is issuing a warning flare. And says it’s coming for other fraudsters. Already, the dept has brought charges in more than 1,000 other criminal cases involving more than $1.1 billion in federal dollars.

Who’s making moves…

Russia. Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial military mobilization in a pre-recorded speech. It only applies to citizens with relevant military experience. But this means up to 300,000 soldiers will be added to Russia’s forces. The update comes as four Russian-occupied regions in Ukraine announced referendum plans. Voting is set to start later this week. And will determine whether the Luhansk and Donetsk regions in the east and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions in the south will formally become part of Russia. At least that’s what Russia says. The move is echoing a similar referendum Putin used to annex Crimea in 2014. Ukrainian and Western officials have condemned the move. National security adviser Jake Sullivan said the US "unequivocally" rejects the territory as anything other than a part of Ukraine. This all comes after Ukraine made gains in the northeastern Kharkiv region following a successful counteroffensive. Sus timing, Russia. 

What you can no longer fuhgettabout in NYC…

What happens on the subway. Yesterday, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said that the more than 6,400 subway cars in New York City will each have two security cameras. The change — which will be complete by 2025 — comes amid a 73% increase in subway crimes from last year. And will cost $5.5 million. The cameras won't be monitored live, but the footage could help authorities solve crimes once they're committed. Supporters hope the cameras will deter offenders. But critics say that a sweeping surveillance state shouldn't be the price riders “pay to be safe.”  

While slipping, and sliding, and doing all them little tricks…

Maybe wear a condom. Because STDs, people.

What we’re singing while we sweat…

Row, row, row your…Peloton

While Adnan Syed may be enjoying leftovers...

This “Serial” ep is out.

Who seems to have found his Voice amid those cheating allegations…

Adam Levine.

Live Smarter

Sign up for the Daily Skimm email newsletter. Delivered to your inbox every morning and prepares you for your day in minutes.