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Robin Kelly

Too many new moms are dying. Illinois health officials are trying to understand why.

Too many new moms are dying. Illinois health officials are trying to understand why.

Looking back, Jo Ann Allen wonders what she might have missed in the days leading up to her niece’s sudden death.

Monique Bacon was 17 and had given birth just weeks before to a son. Allen, who is a nurse and knows the importance of keeping a mom healthy, took Bacon to her prenatal appointments. She said Bacon seemed fine — energetic and healthy.

So no one expected what happened at a Chatham gas station in 1991. Bacon collapsed. Allen, summoned by a phone call from a relative, arrived to see paramedics trying to resuscitate her. Her thoughts flashed to Bacon’s son.

“It was devastating,” she recalled of her niece’s death, which was due to a heart-related issue. “She...

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