To study the levels and causes of maternal mortality in St. Petersburg, Russian Federation.
We collected data about all pregnancy-related deaths in St. Petersburg over the period 1992-2003 using several sources of information. An independent research group reviewed and classified all cases according to ICD-10 and the Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths in the United Kingdom. We tested trends of overall and cause specific ratios (deaths per 100,000 births) for four 3-year intervals using the chi2 test.
The maternal mortality ratio for the study period was 43 per 100,000 live births. A sharp decline of direct obstetric deaths was observed from the first to fourth 3-year interval (49.8 for 1992-94 versus 18.5 for 2001-03). Sepsis and haemorrhage were the main causes of direct obstetric deaths. Among the total deaths from sepsis, 63.8% were due to abortion. Death ratios from sepsis declined significantly from the first to second study interval. In the last study interval (2001-03), 50% of deaths due to haemorrhage were secondary to ectopic pregnancies. The death ratio from thromboembolism remained low (2.9%) and stable throughout the study period. Among indirect obstetric deaths a non-significant decrease was observed for deaths from cardiac disease. Death ratios from infectious causes and suicides increased over the study period.
Maternal mortality levels in St. Petersburg still exceed European levels by a factor of five. Improved management of abortion, emergency care for sepsis and haemorrhage, and better identification and control of infectious diseases in pregnancy, are needed.