Duke Ob/Gyn Magazine — Spring 2024

Photo montage with Duke Obstetrics & Gynecology verbiage and Research. Education. Patient Care.

Duke Ob/Gyn Magazine — Spring 2024


Duke Ob/Gyn Magazine Cover Spring 2024

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Message from the Chair

Matthew D. Barber, MD, MHS - Dept. Chair
Matthew D. Barber, MD, MHS
W. Allen Addison, MD, Distinguished Professor and Chair
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Duke University Medical Center

Whether caring for patients, conducting research or educating tomorrow’s health care providers, ob/gyns across the U.S. are being impacted by the current state of women’s health. Daily, we are reminded of this. 

Weeks before this publication was finalized, Alabama’s Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are considered children, and potential devastating effects on infertility treatments are now headline news. For those who yearn to grow their families through assisted reproductive technology (ART), including freezing embryos, this decision presents new challenges. Fortunately, it appears Alabama’s legislature will protect ART, but news like this reminds us of the challenges and unknowns that face women’s health today. 

Duke Fertility Center is nationally ranked with success rates for in vitro fertilization that are consistently above national rates. Our team of reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialists takes great pride in achieving this status. Duke Fertility Center continues to be a leader in this subspecialty — but the landscape of REI now includes many unknowns that could have broad implications.

In May of 2023, North Carolina’s General Assembly passed a sweeping law that severely restricts access to abortion from the earliest stages of pregnancy, banning abortion care after 12 weeks (with exceptions for life-limiting fetal anomalies, cases of rape or incest, and maternal medical emergencies). The repercussions of this, and the impact on Duke Ob/Gyn in a post-Roe world, have been challenging and disheartening to say the least. We continue to see increased volume at our Family Planning Clinic as patients from neighboring states with even more restrictive abortion bans seek care at Duke. We are steadfast in assuring that abortion is safe, legal and accessible to all patients as current laws allow. We will provide comprehensive educational opportunities to residents, and to fellows in our new Complex Family Planning Fellowship. 

And as we navigate this landscape, we are committed to improving the maternal health crisis. Black women are three times more likely to die in childbirth than white women. Health care disparities impact outcomes. There is work to be done — but we are making progress. In 2021, we made a commitment to reducing maternal morbidity by 50% in five years and eliminate racial disparities. Already we are making significant progress. In just three years, severe maternal morbidity across Duke Health has decreased by 40%. In 2023, we saw the lowest maternal morbidity rate since 2018 (with an increased volume of nearly 900 deliveries in 2023, compared to 2018). 

Through multidisciplinary care models health systemwide, Duke’s high-risk pregnancy care is nationally recognized. These efforts, and many other examples of how we provide exceptional, compassionate care — and most importantly, hope — are highlighted in this annual publication. Thank you for being a part of this journey. 

NPR podcast icon

REI Division Chief Steve Young, MD, PhD, was featured on NPR’s “Here and Now” podcast IVF: A former patient in the South tells her story. 

Listen to the podcast

Baby in Duke onesie

Duke Obstetrics and Gynecology physicians, faculty and researchers are dedicated to advancing women’s health through excellence in research, teaching and patient care. Philanthropy has played an important part in enabling and sustaining this vital work. You may direct your gift in the way that is most meaningful to you, including supporting the work of your physician.