Lack of Maternal Death Autopsy Data in Developing World

February 21, 2008

In developing countries, the cause of maternal death is rarely investigated by autopsy, making it impossible to estimate the indirect causes and therefore make informed decisions on the best use of resources targeted at reducing maternal mortality, according to an editorial published in the February issue of PLoS Medicine.

<p>THURSDAY, Feb. 21 (HealthDay News) -- In developing countries, the cause of maternal death is rarely investigated by autopsy, making it impossible to estimate the indirect causes and therefore make informed decisions on the best use of resources targeted at reducing maternal mortality, according to an editorial published in the February issue of <i>PLoS Medicine</i>.</p><p>Sebastian Lucas, M.D., of King's College London School of Medicine in London, U.K., notes that maternal deaths in the United Kingdom are evaluated in detail, often by autopsy, and indirect causes of death are established twice as frequently as direct causes. However, in developing countries, which account for over 99 percent of the 500,000 maternal deaths that occur globally every year, most are attributed to direct causes such as postpartum hemorrhage, puerperal sepsis, hypertensive disorders and obstructed labor.</p><p>However, a recent study conducted in Mozambique established cause of 179 maternal deaths of which 78 percent were investigated by autopsy, and found that 13 percent of maternal deaths were due to HIV disease, and infectious disease in general accounted for half of all maternal deaths.</p><p>"We still need a truly representative multidisciplinary study of maternal death in poor countries, with and without HIV," the author writes. "Only then will there be a more informed debate on the critical question: where do you put the money if you want to reduce maternal death?"</p> <p><a href="http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0050048 " target="_new">Editorial</a></p>

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