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New mothers more likely to die in UK than Scandinavia

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Women are four times as likely to die after childbirth in Britain as in Scandinavian countries, a study published in the BMJ has found.

Researchers analysed data on the number of women who die because of complications during pregnancy in eight high-income European countries.

They found that Britain had the second-highest death rate, with one in 10,000 mothers dying within six weeks of giving birth, only slightly less than in Slovakia, the worst performing.

The study found that rates of “late” maternal death — when women die between six weeks and a year after giving birth — were nearly twice as high in Britain as in France, the only other country for which data was available. Heart problems and suicide were the main causes of death.

Professor Andrew Shennan, an obstetrician at King’s College London, said: “Any death relating to pregnancy is devastating. Equally shocking are the avoidable discrepancies in worldwide maternal mortality.

“Causes of [maternal] death are relatively consistent across the world, and largely avoidable. Most deaths are due to haemorrhage, sepsis and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.

“In Europe, non-obstetric causes of death have become proportionately more common than obstetric causes, including deaths from cardiovascular disease (23%) and suicide (13%); these should be prioritised.”

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: The Times. 17 November 2022

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