Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Homicide, suicide outpace traditional causes of death in pregnant, postpartum women

Violent deaths are outpacing traditional causes of maternal mortality, such as hemorrhage and preeclampsia, and conflicts with intimate partner are often a factor, researchers report.

"We found that the mortality rate from homicide and suicide were more common than what we think of as traditional causes of maternal mortality," said Dr. Christie L. Palladino, an obstetrician-gynecologist and educational researcher at Georgia Health Sciences University. "It's not what you want to read, but it's the reality."

The analysis of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Violent Death Reporting System, a surveillance system from 17 states, found 94 pregnancy-associated suicides and 139 homicides from 2003-07. Overall, 64.4 percent of pregnancy-associated violent deaths – classified by the CDC as death during pregnancy and the following year – occurred during pregnancy. The mortality rate was 4.9 per 100,000 live births.

The findings, published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, are a wakeup call for health care providers and families alike about the need for mental health awareness and treatment at a time typically associated with great joy, said Palladino who is working to enhance training of obstetrician-gynecologists in depression diagnosis and treatment.

"We have a lot of studies looking at the effects of pregnancy on the baby but often we don't focus so much on outcomes for moms, and the most disastrous of those for both mom and baby would be suicide," Palladino said. She noted that homicide and suicide are both potentially preventable. "The more we look into ways to prevent suicide, ways to effectively manage women with mental health diagnoses during pregnancy and postpartum, the more we can take steps to prevent these deaths," she said.

Among the suicides, 45.7 percent occurred during pregnancy and problems with current or former partners appeared to contribute to more than half. Older, Caucasian women were at greatest risk. Among homicides, 77.7 percent occurred during pregnancy and more than half the women were age 24 or younger and unmarried. Nearly half were black, even though black women accounted for less than 20 percent of the live births, and 45 percent were associated with violence from a current or former partner.

In follow-up, Palladino is surveying practicing physicians about their practice patterns in treating depression during pregnancy. She and her colleagues also want to learn more about precipitating circumstances such as substance abuse, stress and mental illness and treatment. Studies already indicate that intervention lowers the recurrence risk of intimate partner violence in pregnancy and postpartum.

It was her early experience as an obstetrician-gynecologist who felt ill-prepared to treat depression in pregnant women that got her interested in the topic. A 2003 report in The British Journal of Psychiatry identifying suicide as the leading cause of maternal death in Great Britain sealed the deal. "Unfortunately what we found paralleled the Great Britain findings," Palladino said.

The good news is that evidence-based guidelines for depression treatment during pregnancy or postpartum have been developed by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and The American Psychiatric Association, she said. The bad news is that women and their providers might be hesitant to seek or provide care because mental illness and pregnancy seem counterintuitive.

Collateral materials such as police, coroner and medical examiner reports also were examined as part of the CDC database to provide greater context for the cause of death. While the overall pregnancy-associated violent death rate was stable over the four-year study period, those numbers could be underreported because the pregnancy or postpartum status was marked "unknown" in the majority of female deaths in the CDC database, the researchers noted. Pregnancy or postpartum status also could be missed because autopsies might not include a pregnancy exam, might miss postpartum signs or might fail to report pregnancy status on death certificates.

States participating in the CDC violent death database include South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, Maryland, Alaska, Massachusetts, Oregon, Colorado, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, California, Kentucky, New Mexico and Utah.

Researchers at the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University co-authored the study.

Toni Baker | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Great Basin Health Sciences Homicide Palladino mental illness mortality rate

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>