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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


KESTLER, Edgar  and  RAMIREZ, Lilian. Pregnancy-related mortality in Guatemala, 1993-1996. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2000, vol.7, n.1, pp.41-45. ISSN 1680-5348.

To select the proper interventions that could prevent maternal mortality, adequate and appropriate maternal mortality data are needed. Nevertheless, the quality and quantity of information and the scope of maternal health- and death-related data are inadequate in many countries, particularly in the developing world. From January 1993 to December 1996 a surveillance program in maternal mortality was developed to conduct surveillance studies in the department of Guatemala, Guatemala. With an active surveillance system, our approach gave a more complete picture of maternal death and produced information on the specific causes of maternal mortality. Using multiple sources of information, we reviewed and analyzed all deaths of women of childbearing age (10 to 49 years). Each death was investigated to determine whether it was pregnancy-related or not. The maternal mortality ratio for the four-year study period was 156.2 deaths per 100 000 live births. Women 35 and older had a higher risk of maternal death than women under that age. Women who were 35-39 years old had a maternal death risk almost three times as high as women aged 20-24. For women who were 40 or older the risk was more than double that of women 20-24 years old. Overall, the two leading causes of maternal mortality were infection and hemorrhage. Vaginal deliveries where there was medical assistance had the highest rate of delivery-related maternal death from general infection. In deliveries attended by nonmedical personnel, delivery-related maternal deaths from hemorrhage were most frequently associated with retained placenta. Developing countries are called on to implement systems that can provide continuous and systematic data collection so that policymakers and health managers have adequate information to design proper interventions to save women's lives.

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