Increasing trends in atonic postpartum haemorrhage in Ireland: an 11-year population-based cohort study


Ms J Lutomski, National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre, 5th Floor, Cork University Maternity Hospital, Wilton, Cork, Ireland. Email


Please cite this paper as: Lutomski J, Byrne B, Devane D, Greene R. Increasing trends in atonic postpartum haemorrhage in Ireland: an 11-year population-based cohort study. BJOG 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2011.03198.x

Objective  To derive nationally representative incidence rates of postpartum haemorrhage (PPH), and to investigate trends associated with method of delivery, blood transfusion and morbidly adherent placenta (accreta, percreta and increta).

Design  Population-based retrospective cohort study.

Setting  Republic of Ireland.

Population  Childbirth hospitalisations during the period 1999–2009.

Methods  International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-9-CM and ICD-10-AM diagnostic codes from hospital discharge records were used to identify cases of PPH. Significant temporal trends in PPH incidence were determined using Cochrane–Armitage tests for trend. Log-binomial regression was conducted to assess annual changes in the risk of PPH diagnosis, with adjustment for potential confounding factors.

Main outcome measures  PPH, uterine atony, blood transfusion and morbidly adherent placenta.

Results  A total of 649 019 childbirth hospitalisations were recorded; 2.6% (n = 16 909) included a diagnosis of PPH. The overall PPH rate increased from 1.5% in 1999 to 4.1% in 2009; atonic PPH rose from 1.0% in 1999 to 3.4% in 2009. Significant increasing trends in atonic PPH rates were observed across vaginal, instrumental, and emergency and elective caesarean deliveries (< 0.001). The rate of atonic PPH co-diagnosed with blood transfusion also significantly increased (< 0.001). Relative to 1999, the risk of atonic PPH in 2009 was three-fold increased (adjusted RR 3.03; 95% CI 2.76–3.34). Women diagnosed with a morbidly adherent placenta had a markedly higher risk of total PPH (unadjusted RR 13.14; 95% CI 11.43–15.11).

Conclusions  Increasing rates of atonic PPH highlight the pressing need for research and for clinical audit focusing on aetiological factors, preventative measures and quality of care, to guide current clinical practice.