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New video launched to help reduce UK maternal deaths

22 June, 2016

New video launched to help reduce UK maternal deaths

The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow (RCPSG) and the RCOG, in partnership with other medical organisations, have produced an animated video to help doctors assess unwell pregnant or postpartum women. 

The video, titled It's better to ask: working together to prevent maternal mortality, aims to help reduce the number of maternal deaths in the UK.

It is accompanied by a poster, which highlights the main causes of maternal death and provides midwives and doctors with advice for assessing pregnant and postpartum women who are feeling unwell.

One in every 10,000 pregnancies in the UK and Ireland results in the death of the mother.

A 2014 MBRRACE-UK report into maternity care in the UK and Ireland, found that while 32% of these deaths were a direct consequence of complications during pregnancy, such as pre-eclampsia or bleeding, 68% of deaths were the result of indirect medical and mental health problems.

Indirect causes of maternal death during or shortly after pregnancy included cardiac conditions (23%), influenza and pneumonia (14%), deep vein thrombosis (11%), neurological conditions, such as stroke or epilepsy (11%), and mental health problems resulting in suicide (9%).

Three quarters of women who died had a previous history of medical or mental health problems.

The video, which is being launched at the RCOG World Congress in Birmingham today (22 June), provides advice for health professionals who are assessing pregnant and postpartum women including familiarising themselves with their patient’s medical history including any pre-existing medical or mental health conditions, and never assuming that symptoms are just caused by pregnancy.

RCOG president Dr David Richmond said: ‘While the number of women dying from complications directly associated with pregnancy has fallen, it is clear that we still face a challenge of further reducing the maternal death rate in the UK, particularly deaths caused by pre-existing conditions that are not directly related to pregnancy, such as mental health problems, epilepsy, heart disease or cancer.

‘The RCOG welcomes this new innovative resource, which encourages doctors and midwives to ‘red flag’ unwell pregnant women. Raising awareness of symptoms and providing healthcare professionals with advice for better assessment of pregnant and postpartum women who are feeling unwell, is crucial in the fight to prevent the unfortunate deaths that occur during and after pregnancy in the UK.’

Access the video and poster here

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