Etiology Of Maternal Death

Although cardiac arrest in pregnant patients is rare—it is estimated to occur once in every 30,000 deliveries—the incidence of maternal death has been increasing recently. From 1987 to 1990, the overall pregnancy-related mortality ratio was 9.2 deaths per 100,000 live births. However, the National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives of Healthy People 2000 identifies a rate of no more than 3.3 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births as a national goal. Because critically ill obstetric patients are uncommon, optimal care is sometimes jeopardized. Many maternal deaths may be preventable if managed appropriately. Some of the factors associated with a higher risk of pregnancy-related death include increasing maternal age, race, increasing live birth order, lack of prenatal care, and unwed mothers.1

The leading causes of maternal death are pulmonary embolism, trauma, hemorrhage, and maternal cardiac disease (Table 1...2..-.1.). While pulmonary embolism is considered the most common medical cause of death in pregnant women, several studies indicate that injury is the most common etiology of maternal death and homicide the most common form of injury.23 Domestic violence and its relationship to pregnancy and homicide is poorly understood, but domestic violence indicators should be examined in all newly diagnosed pregnancies as a preventive measure.

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