News

Report breaks down rates of maternal deaths


Morgan Liotta


19/12/2018 2:52:07 PM

A new report from the AIHW reveals the most common causes and rates of maternal deaths between 2006 and 2016.

In 2016, the maternal mortality rate was 8.5 deaths per 100,000 women giving birth in Australia, a new AIHW report reveals.
In 2016, the maternal mortality rate was 8.5 deaths per 100,000 women giving birth in Australia, a new AIHW report reveals.

Childbirth is safe for most women in Australia and maternal deaths rare.
 
When they do occur, however, the most common causes are non-obstetric haemorrhage and heart disease, according to a new Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report.
 
The AIHW defines maternal death as ‘the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of the end of pregnancy, regardless of the duration or outcome of the pregnancy’.
 
The report divides maternal deaths into two categories: 

  • Direct – resulting from obstetric complications of pregnancy or its management
  • Indirect – resulting from diseases or conditions not due to a direct obstetric cause, but exacerbated by the physiologic effects of pregnancy
These deaths are reviewed in the AIHW report, along with contextual information for maternal deaths in Australia since 2006.
 
There were 12 direct maternal deaths and 11 indirect in 2016. These were caused by:
  • suicide (five deaths)
  • thromboembolism (three)
  • amniotic fluid embolism (two)
  • hypertensive disorders (two)
  • non-obstetric haemorrhage (two)
  • substance use (two)
  • cancer (one)
  • cardiovascular (one)
  • obstetric haemorrhage (one)
  • sepsis (one)
  • other (three).
Thromboembolism, amniotic fluid embolism and obstetric haemorrhage accounted for the most direct maternal deaths reported between 2006 and 2016.
 
Non-obstetric haemorrhage (brain haemorrhage and haemorrhage from a ruptured aneurysm of the splenic artery) and complications of pre-existing cardiovascular disease accounted for the most indirect maternal deaths reported.
 
The report also reveals that 281 women were reported to have died during pregnancy or within 42 days of the end of pregnancy, with the maternal mortality rate 8.5 deaths per 100,000 women giving birth in 2016.
 
Of the women who were reported to be pregnant at the time of their death, two in five (38.6%) died during the first trimester, and one in five (21.1%) died during the birth process or within 24 hours of giving birth. These proportions do not include maternal deaths following or due to miscarriage or termination of pregnancy.
 
The AIHW states that understanding the timing of maternal deaths is important for identifying periods of critical risk.
 
There were 55 coincidental deaths (death occurring during pregnancy but causally unrelated) in Australia from 2006–2016 – motor vehicle trauma and cancer being the most common causes.
 



cardiovascular haemorrhage maternal health obstetrics thromboembolism



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