Levels and trends in mortality and causes of death among women of reproductive age in Bangladesh: Findings from three national surveys

J Glob Health. 2023 Aug 25:13:07005. doi: 10.7189/jogh.13.07005.


Background: Information on the mortality rate and proportional cause-specific mortality is essential for identifying diseases of public health importance, design programmes, and formulating policies, but such data on women of reproductive age in Bangladesh is limited.

Methods: We analysed secondary data from the 2001, 2010, and 2016 rounds of the nationally representative Bangladesh Maternal Mortality and Health Care Survey (BMMS) to estimate mortality rates and causes of death among women aged 15-49 years. We collected information on causes of death three years prior to each survey using a country-adapted version of the World Health Organization (WHO) verbal autopsy (VA) questionnaire. Trained physicians independently reviewed the VA questionnaire and assigned a cause of death using the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes. The analysis included mortality rates and proportional mortality showing overall and age-specific causes of death.

Results: The overall mortality rates for women aged 15-49 years decreased over time, from 190 per 100 000 years of observation in the 2001 BMMS, to 121 per 100 000 in the 2010 BMMS, to 116 per 100 000 in the 2016 BMMS. Age-specific mortality showed a similar downward pattern. The three diseases contributing the most to mortality were maternal causes (13-20%), circulatory system diseases (15-23%), and malignancy (14-24%). The relative position of these three diseases changed between the three surveys. From the 2001 BMMS to the 2010 BMMS and subsequently to the 2016 BMMS, the number of deaths from non-communicable diseases (e.g. cardiovascular diseases and malignancies) increased from 29% to 38% to 48%. Maternal causes led to the highest proportion of deaths among 20-34-year-olds in all three surveys (25-32%), while suicide was the number one cause of death for teenagers (19-22%). Circulatory system diseases and malignancy were the two leading causes of death for older women aged 35-49 years (40%-67%).

Conclusions: There was a gradual shift in the causes of death from communicable to non-communicable diseases among women of reproductive age in Bangladesh. Suicide as the primary cause of death among teenage girls demands urgent attention for prevention.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aged
  • Bangladesh / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases*
  • Cause of Death
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Noncommunicable Diseases*


  • 3-(4-dimethylaminophenyl)-N-hydroxy-2-propenamide