Chapter 1: Which mothers died, and why

Leading causes of maternal deaths: 2003-05

Direct deaths

The commonest cause of Direct maternal deaths was again thromboembolism. Although the rates appear to have risen slightly, this is compatible with random variation. Similarly, although there appears to be a three-fold increase in the number of deaths due to Amniotic Fluid Embolism (AFE), these were largely concentrated in the first two years of the triennium and were largely unavoidable. The small variation in rates of deaths from sepsis, pre-eclampsia/eclampsia, haemorrhage, anaesthesia and direct uterine trauma are no greater than would be expected by chance. There was no under-reporting of any of these deaths.

Indirect deaths

Cardiac disease was the commonest cause of maternal death overall, and was more common than the most frequent Direct cause of maternal death, thromboembolism. It also outnumbers deaths from suicide, which was the leading overall cause of maternal death in the last Report.