Severe maternal morbidity in Canada, 1991-2001

September 26, 2005

The death of a mother during pregnancy or delivery is fortunately a rare event. So rare, that routine tracking of national and provincial rates, while important, fails to capture other non-fatal but serious health hazards.

Shi Wu Wen and colleagues report rates of severe maternal morbidity in Canada over a 10-year period. Severe maternal morbidity, such as cardiac arrest, postpartum hemorrhage requiring transfusion, uterine rupture and other life-threatening illnesses occur in 1 of every 250 deliveries. Women who developed these complications were 158 times more likely to die than women who did not have the complications. An analysis over the 10-year period of the study showed that rates for some complications, such as hemorrhage requiring transfusion, were declining, while others, such as uterine rupture, were increasing.
-end-
There is a worldwide trend towards improved monitoring of maternal health during pregnancy and in the postpartum period.

p. 759 Severe maternal morbidity in Canada, 1991-2001
-- S.W. Wen, et al
http://www.cmaj.ca/misc/press/pg759.pdf

Canadian Medical Association Journal

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