Maternal deaths and their causes in Ankara, Turkey, 1982-2001

Akar M., Eyi E., Yilmaz E., Yuksel B., Yılmaz Z.

JOURNAL OF HEALTH POPULATION AND NUTRITION, vol.22, no.4, pp.420-428, 2004 (SCI-Expanded) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 22 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2004
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.420-428
  • Keywords: maternal mortality, eclampsia, haemorrhage, embolism, prenatal care, Turkey, MORTALITY, PREGNANCY
  • Akdeniz University Affiliated: Yes


This study was carried out to determine the incidence and causes of maternal deaths about a 20-year period at the Zekai Tahir Burak Women's Health Education and Research Hospital (ZTBNVHERH), Ankara, Turkey. All maternal deaths from January 1982 to July 2001 were reviewed and classified retrospectively. Using a computer-generated list, 348 patients admitted to the Labour Department of ZTBWHERH during 1982-2001 were selected as controls. Medical records were reviewed for demographic data, history of antenatal care, route of delivery, referral history, and perinatal mortality. Cases and controls were compared, and standard tests were used for calculating odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) for the association of demographic and delivery characteristics. During this period, there were 174 maternal deaths and 430,559 livebirths, giving a maternal mortality ratio of 40.4/100,000 livebirths. The mortality rate declined from 85.1/100,000 in 1982 to 11.6/100,000 in 2001. One hundred thirty (74.7%) deaths were due to direct obstetric causes and 24 (13.7%) were abortion-related, while 20 (11.4%) were due to indirect obstetric causes. The most common cause of direct obstetric deaths was pre-eclampsia/eclampsia, followed by obstetric haemorrhage and embolism. Abortion-related sepsis and haemorrhage, anesthesia-related deaths, obstetric sepsis, acute fatty liver of pregnancy, and ectopic pregnancy accounted for other causes of deaths. Cardiovascular disease was the leading indirect cause of death. Referral, lack of antenatal care, and foetal death at admittance were associated with 8-, 3-, and 6-fold increased risk of maternal mortality respectively (OR 8.89, 95% CI 5.713.8; OR 3.74, 95% CI 2.5-5.5; OR 6.38, 95% CI 3.1-13.1). Although maternal mortality ratios have declined at the hospital, especially in the past five years, the rate is still high, and further improvements are needed. The problem of maternal mortality remains multifactorial. Short-term objectives should be focused on improving both medical and administrative practices. Improving the status of women will necessarily remain a long-term objective.