Pregnant women in Louisiana at increased risk for homicide

February 06, 2020

New Orleans, LA - Pooja Mehta, M.D., clinical assistant professor of obstetrics & gynecology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, was a member of a research team that found 13% of deaths occurring during or up to one year after pregnancy among Louisiana women in 2016-17 were homicides. Results are published online in JAMA Pediatrics, available here.

The team conducted a retrospective analysis of vital records data provided by the Louisiana Department of Health of all cases of maternal death that year. Of the 119 maternal deaths, homicide accounted for more deaths than any other single cause. Mortality from homicide was 12.9 per 100,000 compared to mortality from hypertensive disorders at 3.2 or obstetric embolism at 4.8 per 100,000.

"This is distinct from findings that focus on 'pregnancy-related' death - a different definition of 'maternal mortality,' which are deaths confirmed on case review to be directly linked to or worsened by pregnancy," notes Dr. Mehta, who was the Medical Director for the Louisiana Pregnancy-Associated Mortality Review at the time of the study. "The key finding from this study is that pregnant and postpartum women in Louisiana are more likely than others of the same age to experience a homicide."

The authors write that their estimated rate is among the highest reported across a growing number of jurisdictions, possibly due in part to improved case ascertainment through the use of linked and verified data and/or reflecting a truly higher incidence within Louisiana, given the state's consistently high incidence of homicide among women and girls.

"This points to the fact that pregnant people are in fact more vulnerable to violence--those who interact with pregnant and postpartum individuals inside and outside of the health system need to work together to better support these individuals," adds Mehta. "We have to see each death as something that is worth preventing, and within our power to prevent."
The research team also included Maeve E. Wallace, Ph.D., and Katherine P. Theall, Ph.D., at Tulane University; and Joia Crear-Perry, M.D., at the National Birth Equity Collaborative.

The study was supported by funding from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health.

LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans (LSU Health New Orleans) educates Louisiana's health care professionals. The state's health sciences university leader, LSU Health New Orleans includes a School of Medicine, the state's only School of Dentistry, Louisiana's only public school of Public Health, and Schools of Allied Health Professions, Nursing and Graduate Studies. LSU Health New Orleans faculty take care of patients in public and private hospitals and clinics throughout the region. In the vanguard of biosciences research, the LSU Health New Orleans research enterprise generates jobs and enormous annual economic impact. LSU Health New Orleans faculty have made lifesaving discoveries and continue to work to prevent, advance treatment or cure disease. To learn more, visit,, or

Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center

Related Pregnancy Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 has a prolonged effect for many during pregnancy
Symptoms for pregnant women with COVID-19 can be prolonged, lasting two months or longer for a quarter of the women who participated in a national study led by UC San Francisco and UCLA.

Relaxed through pregnancy
A group of researchers from Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin have been able to show that maternal psychological wellbeing during pregnancy has a positive effect on newborn infants.

Trajectories of antidepressant medication use during pregnancy
In an analysis of women who started pregnancy when taking antidepressant medications, investigators identified three trajectories of antidepressant dispensing during pregnancy: more than half stopped their treatment, a quarter maintained their treatment throughout pregnancy, and one-fifth discontinued it for a minimum of three months and then resumed it during the postpartum period.

Are women using e-cigarettes during preconception and/or pregnancy?
A new study of 1,365 racially/ethnically diverse, low-income pregnant women found that 4% reported e-cigarette use.

A better pregnancy test for whales
To determine whale pregnancy, researchers have relied on visual cues or hormone tests of blubber collected via darts, but the results were often inconclusive.

Cannabis use during pregnancy
The large health care system Kaiser Permanente Northern California provides universal screening for prenatal cannabis use in women during pregnancy by self-report and urine toxicology testing.

Questions and answers about cannabis use during pregnancy
A new study shows that women have many medical questions about the use of cannabis both before and during pregnancy, and during the postpartum period while breastfeeding.

The effect of taking antidepressants during pregnancy
Exposure to antidepressants during pregnancy and the first weeks of life can alter sensory processing well into adulthood, according to research in mice recently published in eNeuro.

Is ivermectin safe during pregnancy?
Is it safe to give ivermectin to pregnant women? To answer this question, researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), an institution supported by 'la Caixa,' conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that reported cases of accidental exposure to the drug among pregnant women.

Going to sleep on your back in late pregnancy
This study looked at whether going to sleep on your back in the third trimester of pregnancy was associated with average lower birth weights.

Read More: Pregnancy News and Pregnancy Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to