Underreporting of maternal deaths on death certificates and the magnitude of the problem of maternal mortality.

Vital Statistics Administration, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 201 West Preston Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.
American Journal of Public Health (Impact Factor: 4.23). 04/2005; 95(3):478-82. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2004.040063
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT I studied the extent to which maternal deaths are underreported on death certificates.
We collected data on maternal deaths from death certificates, linkage of death certificates with birth and fetal death records, and review of medical examiner records.
Thirty-eight percent of maternal deaths were unreported on death certificates. Half or more deaths were unreported for women who were undelivered at the time of death, experienced a fetal death or therapeutic abortion, died more than a week after delivery, or died as a result of a cardiovascular disorder.
The number of maternal deaths is substantially underestimated when death certificates alone are used to identify deaths, and it is unlikely that the Healthy People 2010 objective of reducing the maternal mortality rate to no more than 3.3 deaths per 100000 live births by 2010 can be achieved. Increasing numbers of births to older women and multiple-gestation pregnancies are likely to complicate efforts to reduce maternal mortality.

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    ABSTRACT: Objective To identify why vital registration under-reports maternal deaths in Jamaica. Methods A cross-sectional study was undertaken to identify all maternal deaths (during pregnancy or ≤ 42 days after pregnancy ended) occurring in 2008. Data sources included vital registration, hospital records, forensic pathology records, and an independent maternal mortality surveillance system. Potential cases were cross-referenced to registered live births and stillbirths, and hospital records to confirm pregnancy status, when the pregnancy ended, and registration. Medical certificates were inspected for certification, transcription, and coding errors. Maternal mortality ratios (MMRs) for registered and/or unregistered deaths were calculated. Results Of 50 maternal deaths identified, 10 (20%) were unregistered. Eight unregistered deaths were coroners’ cases. Among 40 registered deaths, pregnancy was undocumented in 4 (10%). Among the other 36, 24 (67%) had been misclassified (59% direct and 89% indirect deaths). Therefore, only 12 (30%) registered maternal deaths had been coded as maternal deaths, yielding an MMR of 28.3 per 100 000 live births (95% confidence interval [CI] 12.3–48.3), which was 76% lower than the actual MMR of 117.8 (95% CI 85.2–150.4). Conclusion Under-reporting of maternal deaths in Jamaica in 2008 was attributable to delayed registration of coroners’ cases and misclassification. Timely registration of coroners’ cases and training of nosologists to recognize and code maternal deaths is needed.
    International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics 09/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.ijgo.2014.07.023 · 1.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Estimates of intimate partner violence (IPV) during pregnancy vary by population being studied, measures, and other methodological limitations, hindering the ability to gauge the relationship between IPV and negative birth outcomes. The authors report aggregated data from a subsample (n = 148) of the first three waves of the Women's Employment Study. The authors compared groups of women who did and did not give birth to low birth weight infants on demographic, material deprivation, risk behavior, mental health, and IPV factors. The prevalence of domestic violence was more than twice as high for women with low birth weight infants as those women who had a normal weight infant. When considering additional risk factors, including food insufficiency, substance dependence, and depression and/or posttraumatic stress disorder, IPV remained a significant indicator, but it was most strongly associated with low birth weight among women also experiencing depression and/or posttraumatic stress disorder.
    Journal of Interpersonal Violence 11/2007; 22(10):1305-14. DOI:10.1177/0886260507304551 · 1.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction. Trauma, including suicide, accidental injury, motor traffic accidents, and homicides, accounts for 73% of all maternal deaths (early and late) in NSW annually. Late maternal deaths are underreported and are not as well documented or acknowledged as early deaths. Methods. Linked population datasets from births, hospital admissions, and death registrations were analysed for the period from 1 July 2000 to 31 December 2007. Results. There were 552 901 births and a total of 129 maternal deaths. Of these deaths, 37 were early deaths (early MMR of 6.7/100 000) and 92 occurred late (late MMR of 16.6/100 000). Sixty-seven percent of deceased women had a mental health diagnosis and/or a mental health issue related to substance abuse noted. A notable peak in deaths appeared to occur from 9 to 12 months following birth with the odds ratio of a woman dying of nonmedical causes within 9-12 months of birth being 3.8 (95% CI 1.55-9.01) when compared to dying within the first 3 months following birth. Conclusion. Perinatal services are often constructed to provide short-term support. Long-term identification and support of women at particular risk of maternal death due to suicide and trauma in the first year following birth may help lower the incidence of late maternal deaths.
    08/2013; 2013:623743. DOI:10.1155/2013/623743


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