Risk factors for maternal mortality among 1.9 million women in nine empowered action group states in India: secondary analysis of Annual Health Survey data

BMJ Open. 2020 Aug 20;10(8):e038910. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-038910.


Objective: To examine the risk factors for pregnancy-related death in India's nine Empowered Action Group (EAG) states.

Design: Secondary data analysis of the Indian Annual Health Survey (2010-2013).

Setting: Nine states: Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Participants: 1 989 396 pregnant women.

Methods: Maternal mortality ratio (MMR), overall and for each state, with 95% CI was calculated. Stepwise multivariable logistic regression was used to investigate the association of risk factors with maternal mortality. Area under the receiver-operating characteristic (AUROC) curve was used to assess the prediction of the model.

Outcome measures: MMR adjusted for survey design, adjusted OR (aOR)with 95% CI and C-statistic with 95% CI.

Results: MMR calculated for the nine states was 383/100 000 live births (95% CI 346 to 423 per 100 000). Age exhibited a U-shaped association with maternal mortality. Not having a health scheme and belonging to a scheduled caste or scheduled tribe group were significant risk factors for maternal death with aOR of 2.72 (95% CI 2.41 to 3.07), 1.10 (95% CI 1.02 to 1.18) and 1.43 (95% CI 1.31 to 1.56), respectively. Socioeconomic status and rural residence were not associated with maternal mortality after adjusting for access to a healthcare facility. Complications of pregnancy and medical comorbidities were the strongest risk factors for maternal death (aOR 50.2, 95% CI 44.5 to 56.6). Together, the risk factors identified accounted for 89% (95% CI 0.887 to 0.894) of the AUROC.

Conclusions: Maternal mortality in India's EAG states greatly exceeds the national average. The identified risk factors demonstrate the importance of improving the quality of pregnancy care. Notably, the study showed that the risk conferred by poor socioeconomic status could be mitigated by universal access to healthcare during pregnancy and childbirth.

Keywords: epidemiology; obstetrics; public health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Delivery, Obstetric*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Maternal Mortality*
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors