Epidemiology of maternal death and the challenge of care training

Janaina Aparecida Tintori Lise Maria Carvalho Mendes Juliana Cristina dos Santos Monteiro Flávia Gomes-Sponholz About the authors



To describe reported maternal deaths, identify the epidemiological profile of women who died during their pregnancy-postpartum cycle, and analyze the variables related to prenatal and childbirth care.


Retrospective quantitative survey. The studied population was women who died during their pregnancy-postpartum cycle and lived in one of the 26 municipalities in the area covered by the Ribeirão Preto Regional Health Department from 2011 to 2016. Secondary data obtained via the Department of Informatics of the Brazilian Unified Health System, including sociodemographic information and variables related to death, prenatal and childbirth, and the healthcare network, were treated by using descriptive statistics and univariate analysis.


Records of 36 maternal deaths were found for the period between 2011 and 2016. Most deaths occurred in women from 20 to 29 years old (63.9%). The average age of the examined women was 28.1 years, and most were single (50%), white (66.7%), primiparous (41.7%), and had an income source (30%). Access to prenatal care was perceptible because of the existence of early recruitment (72.2%) and the number of prenatal appointments. The main mode of delivery was cesarean (52.8%). Direct obstetric causes of maternal death resulted in 77.8% of the occurrences, and the main causes were hypertension, infection, and bleeding.


The present study showed that most maternal deaths occurred in single, white, and primiparous women from 20 to 29 years old. Early recruitment and adequate number of prenatal appointments stood out. The classification of most deaths was direct obstetric, and hypertension, infection, and bleeding were the main causes. The present study exposed the network structure present in the healthcare sphere at issue and showed satisfactory primary healthcare and hospital coverage in childbirth care.

Maternal mortality; Quality of Health Care; Women’s Health; Epidemiology

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