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Hypertension, Hemorrhage Major Cause of Maternal Death

Unsafe abortion also a common cause in some developing countries, the authors say

TUESDAY, March 28 (HealthDay News) -- Hemorrhage and high blood pressure are the leading causes of maternal death in developing countries, according to a study published in the April 1 issue of The Lancet.

A. Metin Gulmezoglu, M.D., of the World Health Organization, and colleagues analyzed 34 sets of population-representative sets of data covering 35,197 maternal deaths. They assessed the data for hemorrhage, hypertensive disorders, sepsis, abortion, obstructed labor, ectopic pregnancy and embolism.

The data revealed wide geographic variation in the cause of death. Hemorrhage was the leading cause of maternal death in Africa and Asia, accounting for an estimated 33.9 percent and 30.8 percent, respectively. In Latin America and the Caribbean, most maternal deaths were due to hypertensive disorders (25.7 percent). In the same region, abortion deaths were the highest in the world, accounting for 12 percent of the total, and for as much as 30 percent in some countries. In Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the risk of sepsis-related death was about double that of developed nations.

"This systematic review highlights the need for increased emphasis on programs relevant to specific settings such as the prevention and treatment of hemorrhage both prepartum and postpartum," the authors concluded.

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