Author(s): BouvierColle MH, Ouedraogo C, Dumont A, Vangeenderhuysen C, Salanave B,
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Abstract BACKGROUND: According to estimates of maternal mortality rates from WHO/UNICEF, the West African rates appear to be among the world's highest. The precision of these estimates from general mortality models is far from ideal and no information on the distribution of causes of death is provided. The principal objective of our study is to describe the maternal mortality, estimation of the rates and distribution of obstetric causes, from a population based survey of pregnant women carried out in West Africa. We also present the main characteristics of the deaths that occurred, including avoidable aspects. METHODS: The survey included all the pregnant women living in seven defined areas, from December 1994 through June 1996, depending on the area. Twenty thousand three hundred and twenty-six pregnant women (94.3\% of all those identified) agreed to participate and 19,545 were followed throughout the second trimester of pregnancy, delivery and the puerperium. Physicians from the survey team made special enquiries about all maternal deaths. But the deaths occurring during the first months of pregnancy could not be estimated. A subcommittee analyzed all the deaths, assigned the underlying cause and discussed the avoidable aspects of the death. RESULTS: Sixty-six deaths were reported. Fifty-five (three late) were deaths due to obstetric causes; six were fortuitous deaths, and no cause could be defined for five. As a mean and for pregnancy after week 25, the maternal mortality rate was estimated at 311 (95\% CI 234-404) per 100,000 live births and 852 (95\% CI 456-1457) in rural areas. Hemorrhages accounted for 29\% of obstetric deaths, uterine rupture 13\%, eclampsia and infectious diseases 11\% each. Seventy-four percent of the direct obstetric causes were considered avoidable. CONCLUSION: Confidential enquiries into maternal deaths in West Africa are not just a concern of the others. They are urgently requested to promote the improvement of health services.
This article was published in Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy