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Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 2008 Feb;48(1):50-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1479-828X.2007.00801.x.

Avoidable risk factors in perinatal deaths: a perinatal audit in South Australia.

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1
Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To analyse risk factors of perinatal death, with an emphasis on potentially avoidable risk factors, and differences in the frequency of suboptimal care factors between maternity units with different levels of care.

METHODS:

Six hundred and eight pregnancies (2001-2005) in South Australia resulting in perinatal death were described and compared to 86 623 live birth pregnancies.

RESULTS:

Two hundred and seventy cases (44.4%) were found to have one or more avoidable maternal risk factors, 31 cases (5.1%) had a risk factor relating access to care, while 68 cases (11.2%) were associated with deficiencies in professional care. One hundred and four women (17.1% of cases) presented too late for timely medical care: 85% of these did have a sufficient number of antenatal visits. The following independent maternal risk factors for perinatal death were found: assisted reproductive technology (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 3.16), preterm labour (AOR 22.05), antepartum haemorrhage (APH) abruption (AOR 6.40), APH other/unknown cause (AOR 2.19), intrauterine growth restriction (AOR 3.94), cervical incompetence (AOR 8.89), threatened miscarriage (AOR 1.89), pre-existing hypertension (AOR 1.72), psychiatric disorder (AOR 1.85) and minimal antenatal care (AOR 2.89). The most commonly found professional care deficiency in cases was the failure to act on or recognise high-risk pregnancies/complications, found in 49 cases (8.1%).

CONCLUSION:

Further improvements in perinatal mortality may be achieved by greater emphasis on the importance of antenatal care and educating women to recognise signs and symptoms that require professional assessment. Education of maternity care providers may benefit from a further focus on how to recognise and/or manage high-risk pregnancies.

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