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Women's, Children's and Family Health

Alaska Maternal and Child Death Review (MCDR)


About MCDR

The Alaska Maternal and Child Death Review (MCDR) is a national evidence-based program that systematically and comprehensively reviews deaths using a multi-disciplinary consensus decision making approach. This model specifically aims to identify causes and contributing factors to maternal, infant, and child deaths in Alaska and develop recommendations to prevent future deaths. This goal is accomplished through expert committee reviews of medical records, autopsy reports, death scene investigation reports, and other relevant information that is compiled for every death. MCDR has been in place since 1989 and is established under Alaska State Statute 18.23.010 - 18.23.070. This program is federally funded by the HRSA Title V MCH Block grant, the CDC Sudden Unexplained Infant Death (SUID) grant, and the CDC Supporting Maternal Mortality Review Committees grant and is housed in the Alaska Division of Public Health, Section of Women’s, Children’s, and Family Health.

Goals and Objectives

The goal of MCDR is to reduce infant, child and maternal mortality in Alaska by better understanding the factors associated with each death through a committee review process. MCDR program objectives are:

  • Perform statewide epidemiological surveillance concerning infant, child and maternal deaths in Alaska.
  • Conduct annual comprehensive data analyses.
  • Use MCDR committee findings to inform public policy and improve evaluation of established public health initiatives and programs.
  • Document patterns of infant, child and maternal mortality that may be preventable.
  • Educate health care providers regarding diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventative strategies to reduce infant, child and maternal mortality in Alaska.

Ways to support MCDR

MCDR Listserv Recipient: 

Anyone interested in MCDR related information should sign up to be a MCDR Listserv recipient. MCDR Listserv recipients receive quarterly reports that summarize the prevention recommendations generated from each case reviewed by the MCDR Committee, all MCDR data publications, MCDR program updates and announcements, and data publications related to Maternal and Child Health.  Listserv recipients are requested to forward the recommendations and other data publications to anyone who might find the information useful, particularly prevention partners.  

Annual Summit Attendee: 

The MCDR program hosts an Annual Summit every year. The format for these meetings change every year based on identified needs and feedback from the prior year. Information on previous Summits and some of the presentations can be found on the Annual Summit page of the MCDR website. The Summit is open to non-committee members and MCDR partners.

MCDR Committee Member: 

MCDR Committee Members attend at least two all-day case review meetings each year. These meetings are held on the 3rd Friday of each month. MCDR Committee members serve on a voluntary basis and are approved by the DHSS Commissioner and State of Alaska Medical Board.  Committee Members individually review case files and participate in group discussions that generate prevention recommendations.

At least 75% of Committee members must be health care providers. Committee membership includes medical providers such as pediatricians, neonatologists, obstetricians, and nurses, as well as social workers, epidemiologists, tribal representatives, and children’s justice advocates. Employees of the State of Alaska can serve on the MCDR Committee. Efforts to expand membership in specific areas are ongoing to ensure a broad spectrum of professionals and perspectives are represented at each review. The application to join the MCDR Committee is contained in the MCDR Information and Application Packet at the top of this page.

To learn more about membership requirements or nominate a potential committee member, please contact the MCDR Program Associate:

Monthly reviews typically cover 8-10 cases with a subset of committee members present.  The goal of monthly reviews are to be timely in order to allow for 'real time' prevention recommendations.

Data Collection Process

The Alaska Health Analytics and Vital Records Section (HAVRS) generates a monthly report of infant, child and maternal deaths and provides birth and death certificate data elements to MCDR for each death. MCDR staff then request additional information from the Alaska State Troopers or municipal police departments, Department of Juvenile Justice, Office of Children Services, hospitals, health clinics, State Medical Examiner’s Office, and other data sources as appropriate.

Upon receipt of all documentation, the case files are abstracted for specific autopsy, medical, and social data and a summary is written. The case files are then brought to the MCDR monthly or annual meeting to be reviewed by the presiding committee members. MCDR utilizes standardized data reporting forms, which are completed for all reviews.  All information on infant and child deaths is entered and stored in the National Fatality Review Case Reporting System. Maternal deaths are entered into an internal database. Confidentiality of records is maintained at all levels.

The population and age range of deaths reviewed by MCDR has evolved over time. Initially only maternal, infant and occasionally fetal deaths were reviewed. In 2005, the program began reviewing child deaths; for 10 years only deaths among children through the age of 14 years were reviewed. In 2016, the age criterion was expanded to include children through the age of 17 years. All reviews are conducted retrospectively (typically within 1 year of death).

Statutory Authority

MCDR operates under Alaska State Statute 18.23.70(C)​. Data collection is authorized under Alaska State Statute 18.15.360(b). The data MCDR collects is protected under Alaska State Statute 18.15.365.

Alaska’s Maternal and Infant Mortality Review Committee was originally established in 1988 and then re-established by the DHSS Commissioner in 1989 under changes made to Alaska Statute (AS) 18.23.070. These changes added subparagraph (5)(c) to specifically define a committee “established by the Commissioner of Health and Social Services and approved by the State Medical Board to review public health issues regarding morbidity or mortality.” The program operates under Alaska Statute Section 18.15.360b regarding acquisition of data for conditions of public health importance. Identifiable information provided to MCDR is protected under AS 18.15.355-18.15.395. The Committee does not act on individual cases or share data related to individuals, but makes public health recommendations based on aggregate data and trends.