Institutional maternal and perinatal deaths: A review of 40 low and middle income countries

Patricia E. Bailey, Wasihun Andualem, Michel Brun, Lynn Freedman, Sourou Gbangbade, Malick Kante, Emily Keyes, Edwin Libamba, Allisyn C. Moran, Halima Mouniri, Dahada Ould el Joud, Kavita Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Understanding the magnitude and clinical causes of maternal and perinatal mortality are basic requirements for positive change. Facility-based information offers a contextualized resource for clinical and organizational quality improvement. We describe the magnitude of institutional maternal mortality, causes of death and cause-specific case fatality rates, as well as stillbirth and pre-discharge neonatal death rates. Methods: This paper draws on secondary data from 40 low and middle income countries that conducted emergency obstetric and newborn care assessments over the last 10years. We reviewed 6.5 million deliveries, surveyed in 15,411 facilities. Most of the data were extracted from reports and aggregated with excel. Results: Hemorrhage and hypertensive diseases contributed to about one third of institutional maternal deaths and indirect causes contributed another third (given the overrepresentation of sub-Saharan African countries with large proportions of indirect causes). The most lethal obstetric complication, across all regions, was ruptured uterus, followed by sepsis in Latin America and the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa. Stillbirth rates exceeded pre-discharge neonatal death rates in nearly all countries, possibly because women and their newborns were discharged soon after birth. Conclusions: To a large extent, facility-based findings mirror what population-based systematic reviews have also documented. As coverage of a skilled attendant at birth increases, proportionally more deaths will occur in facilities, making improvements in record-keeping and health management information systems, especially for stillbirths and early neonatal deaths, all the more critical.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number295
JournalBMC pregnancy and childbirth
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 7 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Cause of maternal death
  • Cause specific case fatality rate
  • Direct and indirect deaths
  • Early neonatal death rate
  • Perinatal mortality
  • Stillbirth rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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