Reducing maternal mortality from preeclampsia and eclampsia in low-resource countries--what should work?

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2015 Feb;94(2):148-55. doi: 10.1111/aogs.12533. Epub 2014 Nov 18.


Objective: Preeclampsia/eclampsia (PE/E) remains a major cause of maternal death in low-income countries. We evaluated interventions to reduce PE/E-related maternal mortality in sub-Saharan Africa.

Design: Mathematical model to assess impact of interventions on PE/E-related maternal morbidity and mortality.

Setting: Sub-Saharan Africa countries.

Population: Pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa in 2012.

Methods: A systematic literature review populated a decision-tree mathematical model with interventions to diagnose, prevent, and treat women with PE/E. The impact of increased use of interventions [diagnostics, transfer to a hospital, magnesium sulfate (MgSO4 ) use, cesarean section/labor induction] on PE/E-related maternal mortality was analyzed.

Main outcome measures: Prevalence of PE/E and PE/E-associated maternal mortality rates in sub-Saharan Africa.

Results: Without interventions, an estimated 20 570 PE/E-associated deaths would have occurred in sub-Saharan Africa in 2012. With current low rates of diagnosis, MgSO4 use, transfers and cesarean section/induction rates, about 17 520 maternal deaths were associated with PE/E in 2012. Higher use of MgSO4 would have prevented about 610 deaths. With high diagnostic levels, MgSO4 use, transfer and cesarean section/induction, mortality was reduced to 3750 annual deaths, saving about 13 770 maternal lives. If all MgSO4 use was removed from the model, 4060 maternal deaths would occur, increasing maternal deaths by only 310.

Conclusions: In sub-Saharan Africa, our model suggests that increasing use of PE/E diagnostics, transfer to higher levels of care and increased hospitalization with cesarean section/induction of labor would substantially reduce maternal mortality from PE/E. Increasing use of MgSO4 would have a smaller impact on maternal mortality.

Keywords: Preeclampsia; eclampsia; magnesium sulfate; maternal mortality; sub-Saharan Africa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Africa South of the Sahara / epidemiology
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Cesarean Section / statistics & numerical data
  • Developing Countries
  • Eclampsia / mortality*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Labor, Induced / statistics & numerical data
  • Magnesium Sulfate / therapeutic use
  • Maternal Mortality*
  • Pre-Eclampsia / mortality*
  • Pregnancy


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Magnesium Sulfate