4 Major Causes of Maternal Mortality

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When you’re pregnant, the thoughts of holding your baby, watching them take their first step, and say their first word are exciting. But sometimes, you also think of the things that could go wrong — complications and even possible death.

Unfortunately, about 700 women die annually in the US due to pregnancy and birth complications. Most of these complications during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period are preventable and treatable if the mother gets proper medical attention.

However, if a friend or relative dies due to medical negligence, you have a right to sue the hospital or the negligent doctor. Attorney Casey Shomo can help you with the medical malpractice lawsuit.

What Are the Causes of Maternal Mortality

1. Postpartum Hemorrhage (PPH)

This is severe bleeding after birth. If left unattended, a healthy woman can die from this bleeding within a few hours. Postpartum hemorrhage causes 27% of all maternal deaths. The leading cause of PPH is the uterus not contracting enough after childbirth to control bleeding where the placenta was attached.

Other causes include uterine rupture, retained pregnancy debris like placental fragments, uterine inversion, and cervical laceration. The excessive loss of blood can result in a drastic drop in blood pressure, leading to shock and possible death.

2. Preeclampsia and Eclampsia

Preeclampsia is a complication that starts after 20 weeks of pregnancy, even when her blood pressure was previously normal. Preeclampsia can cause serious complications or even death if left untreated. The major characteristics of preeclampsia are high blood pressure and signs of organ damage, usually the liver and kidneys.

Delivering the baby is the most effective treatment. Post preeclampsia (where preeclampsia occurs after birth) is less common, but can also happen. Eclampsia, on the other hand, is rare but life-threatening. It occurs when a woman with preeclampsia suffers convulsions, seizures, or goes into a coma.

Eclampsia develops in approximately 1 in 200 women with preeclampsia.

3. Infections

Pregnant women are vulnerable to infections during pregnancy, birth, and after birth because of changes in the immune system and hormonal levels. They can get an infection from the long labor, unsafe abortion, unhygienic delivery, and even poor hygiene post-delivery.

Infections post-birth can be treated if the signs and symptoms are recognized early, while practicing proper hygiene can help eliminate the infections. These infections can cause complications, some of which can be fatal. In fact, 11% of maternal deaths are caused by infections.

The most common infections include the following:

Chlorioamniotis: An infection of the tissue and amniotic fluid
Genital tract infections: Can affect the reproductive organs
Group B streptococcus (GBS): Presents in the rectum or the mother’s vagina, can cause stillbirth and internal inflammation to the mother, as well as meningitis, sepsis, and pneumonia in newborns who have been infected with GBS

If left untreated in a pregnant woman, the baby can be born with congenital disabilities like mental impairment, learning disabilities, and loss of sight and hearing.

4. Unsafe Abortion

Complications due to unsafe abortion cause around 4.7% to 13.2% of maternal deaths. While some women still die due to legal, safe abortion complications, the deaths are fewer compared to unsafe abortion.

Women with unwanted pregnancies result in unsafe abortions performed by individuals without the medical standards and skills for safe abortion, resulting in any of the following:

~ Hemorrhage
~ Uterine perforation
~ Incomplete abortion
~ Infections
~ Damage to reproductive organs by inserting dangerous objects like scissors, among other problems, most of which are life-threatening.

Maternal Death Caused by a Negligent Doctor? Talk to a Lawyer

While some maternal deaths still occur even in the best medical care, some can be due to negligence by a healthcare provider. If you think your loved one’s death was out of negligence, talk to a medical malpractice lawyer.

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