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Biomed Res Int. 2013;2013:623743. doi: 10.1155/2013/623743. Epub 2013 Aug 19.

Maternal deaths in NSW (2000-2006) from nonmedical causes (suicide and trauma) in the first year following birth.

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University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith South, NSW 2751, Australia.



Trauma, including suicide, accidental injury, motor traffic accidents, and homicides, accounts for 73% of all maternal deaths (early and late) in NSW annually. Late maternal deaths are underreported and are not as well documented or acknowledged as early deaths.


Linked population datasets from births, hospital admissions, and death registrations were analysed for the period from 1 July 2000 to 31 December 2007.


There were 552,901 births and a total of 129 maternal deaths. Of these deaths, 37 were early deaths (early MMR of 6.7/100,000) and 92 occurred late (late MMR of 16.6/100,000). Sixty-seven percent of deceased women had a mental health diagnosis and/or a mental health issue related to substance abuse noted. A notable peak in deaths appeared to occur from 9 to 12 months following birth with the odds ratio of a woman dying of nonmedical causes within 9-12 months of birth being 3.8 (95% CI 1.55-9.01) when compared to dying within the first 3 months following birth.


Perinatal services are often constructed to provide short-term support. Long-term identification and support of women at particular risk of maternal death due to suicide and trauma in the first year following birth may help lower the incidence of late maternal deaths.

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