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Institutional Maternal and Perinatal Deaths: A Review of 40 Low and Middle Income Countries


Bailey, Patricia E.; Andualem, Wasihun; Brun, Michel; Freedman, Lynn P.; Gbangbade, Sourou; Kante, A. Malick; Keyes, Emily; Libamba, Edwin; Moran, Allisyn C.; & Mouniri, Halima, et al. (2017). Institutional Maternal and Perinatal Deaths: A Review of 40 Low and Middle Income Countries. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 17, 295. PMCID: PMC5590194


BACKGROUND: Understanding the magnitude and clinical causes of maternal and perinatal mortality are basic requirements for positive change. Facility-based information offers a contextualized resource for clinical and organizational quality improvement. We describe the magnitude of institutional maternal mortality, causes of death and cause-specific case fatality rates, as well as stillbirth and pre-discharge neonatal death rates.
METHODS: This paper draws on secondary data from 40 low and middle income countries that conducted emergency obstetric and newborn care assessments over the last 10 years. We reviewed 6.5 million deliveries, surveyed in 15,411 facilities. Most of the data were extracted from reports and aggregated with excel.
RESULTS: Hemorrhage and hypertensive diseases contributed to about one third of institutional maternal deaths and indirect causes contributed another third (given the overrepresentation of sub-Saharan African countries with large proportions of indirect causes). The most lethal obstetric complication, across all regions, was ruptured uterus, followed by sepsis in Latin America and the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa. Stillbirth rates exceeded pre-discharge neonatal death rates in nearly all countries, possibly because women and their newborns were discharged soon after birth.
CONCLUSIONS: To a large extent, facility-based findings mirror what population-based systematic reviews have also documented. As coverage of a skilled attendant at birth increases, proportionally more deaths will occur in facilities, making improvements in record-keeping and health management information systems, especially for stillbirths and early neonatal deaths, all the more critical.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth


Bailey, Patricia E.
Andualem, Wasihun
Brun, Michel
Freedman, Lynn P.
Gbangbade, Sourou
Kante, A. Malick
Keyes, Emily
Libamba, Edwin
Moran, Allisyn C.
Mouniri, Halima
El Joud, Dahada Ould
Singh, Kavita