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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 623743, 6 pages
Research Article

Maternal Deaths in NSW (2000–2006) from Nonmedical Causes (Suicide and Trauma) in the First Year following Birth

1University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith South, NSW 2751, Australia
2University of Toronto, 155 College Street, Toronto, ON, Canada M5T 2P8
3University of New South Wales, High Street, Kensington, NSW 2050, Australia

Received 29 April 2013; Revised 18 July 2013; Accepted 18 July 2013

Academic Editor: Nadia Alfaidy

Copyright © 2013 Charlene Thornton et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Introduction. Trauma, including suicide, accidental injury, motor traffic accidents, and homicides, accounts for 73% of all maternal deaths (early and late) in NSW annually. Late maternal deaths are underreported and are not as well documented or acknowledged as early deaths. Methods. Linked population datasets from births, hospital admissions, and death registrations were analysed for the period from 1 July 2000 to 31 December 2007. Results. There were 552 901 births and a total of 129 maternal deaths. Of these deaths, 37 were early deaths (early MMR of 6.7/100 000) and 92 occurred late (late MMR of 16.6/100 000). Sixty-seven percent of deceased women had a mental health diagnosis and/or a mental health issue related to substance abuse noted. A notable peak in deaths appeared to occur from 9 to 12 months following birth with the odds ratio of a woman dying of nonmedical causes within 9–12 months of birth being 3.8 (95% CI 1.55–9.01) when compared to dying within the first 3 months following birth. Conclusion. Perinatal services are often constructed to provide short-term support. Long-term identification and support of women at particular risk of maternal death due to suicide and trauma in the first year following birth may help lower the incidence of late maternal deaths.