The Eighth Report of the Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths, Saving Mothers’ Lives, is published today as a supplement in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Elizabeth Duff, Senior Policy Advisor, NCT, said;
“NCT welcomes the news that the number of maternal deaths in the UK has fallen over the last three years, across all age groups. It is helpful to see the Summary of the Scottish Confidential Audit of Severe Maternal Morbidity Report 2008 included too.
We also welcome the reduction in the inequalities gap since teenagers, non-English speaking women, asylum seekers, refugees and women with mental health or substance abuse problems have previously experienced higher rates of mortality.
Interestingly, the CMACE report clearly says ‘the postnatal period is potentially a time of higher risk than pregnancy or labour - 63% of the 261 women who died from Direct and Indirect causes did so following the birth of their babies’. NCT has highlighted these risks in its recent campaign report on postnatal care and urges more attention to be paid to this area of the service.
The further reduction in suicides as a cause of maternal death is additional good news. We note and support the comment that ‘Over half of the maternal suicides were white, married, employed, living in comfortable circumstances and aged 30 years or older. Care needs to be taken not to equate risk of suicide with socio-economic deprivation’.
In view of the forthcoming changes to healthcare commissioning, NCT supports the warning in the report: ‘Referrals to specialist services in pregnancy should be prioritised as urgent. In some specialties, referrals can … be rejected because of local commissioning rules. This is unacceptable for pregnant women’.
Finally, we note 49% of deaths were of women who were overweight or obese. We call for continued action from government and health services to address this problem and help improve nutrition and appropriate dietary advice for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.