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The World in Medicine
May 17, 2006

Maternal Death

JAMA. 2006;295(19):2240. doi:10.1001/jama.295.19.2240-a

Hemorrhage and hypertension are the chief causes of maternal deaths in developing countries, according to a report by scientists from the World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva, Switzerland; the University of Birmingham, in London, England; and the Centro Rosarino de Estudios Perinatales, in Rosario, Argentina (Khan KS et al. Lancet. 2006;367:1066-1074).

In an analysis of 35 197 maternal deaths in which the reported cause of death was hemorrhage, a hypertensive disorder, sepsis, abortion, obstructed labor, ectopic pregnancy, or embolism, the researchers found that nearly 34% of maternal deaths in Africa and nearly 31% in Asia resulted from hemorrhage. Hypertensive disorders caused nearly 26% of such deaths in Latin America and the Caribbean. Abortion-related deaths were 12% in Latin America and the Caribbean and as high as 30% in some individual countries in this region. Deaths due to sepsis were also higher in developing countries than in developed nations.

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