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S Afr Med J. 1987 Feb 7;71(3):158-60.

Maternal mortality in southern Africa, 1980-1982. Part I. Pregnancy can be lethal.


Statistics regarding the number of births and maternal deaths during the 3-year period 1980-1982, received from 267 hospitals in southern Africa, are presented. Although 812 maternal deaths were recorded, sufficient information for adequate analysis of epidemiological factors (age and parity), cause of death and avoidable factors was available in only 737. The maternal mortality rate was 8.3/10,000. Six hundred and sixty deaths (89.6%) were classified as direct obstetric death. Two hundred and twenty-nine deaths (31%) occurred in women experiencing their first pregnancy. Avoidable factors could be shown to operate in 407 deaths. Important factors identified were that the patient presented very late for antenatal or intrapartum care, that inadequate therapy was administered and that therapy deviated from the accepted norm. Fetal and neonatal loss was high: only 271 infants survived.

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