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Maternal mortality associated with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean

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ABSTRACT

Objective To present estimates of maternal mortality associated with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and to discuss strategies to prevent these deaths

Design Retrospective review of all available data.

Setting Database of the World Health Organization's Maternal Health and Safe Motherhood Programme.

Main outcome measures Estimates of the total maternal mortality and the proportions of deaths associated with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.

Results Estimates of mortality associated with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy were similar in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, despite considerably higher total mortality in Africa. Variations in both overall mortality and that associated with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy were greatest in Asia. Despite their limitations, these data suggest that between 10–15% of maternal deaths are associated with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, and that 10% are associated with eclampsia.

Conclusions Where maternal mortality is relatively high, the excess is likely to be due to a high mortality associated with haemorrhage and infection and reductions are most likely to come from reductions in these deaths. Evidence from both developed and developing countries suggests that deaths associated with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy are the most difficult to prevent. More rigorous assessment of interventions designed to prevent these deaths is urgently required.

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