Violent deaths: the hidden face of maternal mortality

BJOG. 2002 Jan;109(1):5-8.


Objective: To review pregnancy-related deaths due to injuries, to identify the characteristics of these women and to compare the magnitude of injury-related maternal deaths to that of other causes of maternal death.

Design: A retrospective study was performed during a five-year period (1991-1995), covering deaths from injuries, including suicide, homicide and accidents in Maputo, Mozambique.

Setting: Department of Forensic Medicine at the Maputo Central Hospital, Mozambique.

Population: The pregnant or recently pregnant (post-abortion and postpartum) population of Maputo city, the national capital of Mozambique. Twenty-seven cases of pregnancy-related deaths caused by injuries were identified.

Main outcome measures: Proportion of deaths due to homicide, suicide, and accidents in pregnant women or within 42 days after termination of pregnancy.

Results: Ten cases were due to alleged homicide, nine to alleged suicide and six to alleged accident. Fifty-nine percent (16/27) of women suffering an injury-related maternal death were younger than 25 years of age. Eighty-five percent of pregnancies were less than 28 weeks of gestational age. The magnitude of the problem of violence-related maternal deaths compares with the magnitude of pregnancy-induced hypertension as the fourth cause of maternal death at Maputo Central Hospital.

Conclusion: The contribution of violence-related deaths tomaternal mortality is significant and must not be neglected.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Homicide*
  • Humans
  • Maternal Mortality
  • Mozambique / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / mortality*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality*