Three conditions to blame as UK maternity death rate hits 20-year high

Three conditions are to blame for fuelling the HIGHEST maternity death rate in years. The fatality rate among pregnant women and mums-to-be has hit the highest point in 20 years - with an expert urging all pregnant women to be alert.

Research led by Professor Marian Knight, of the University of Oxford, showed 13.41 women per 100,000 died during or six months after pregnancy, up 53 per cent on the 8.79 recorded in the previous three years and the highest since 2003 to 2005.

“We can't just solve this in maternity services," she warned the Sun newspaper. “There's a lot we can do in maternity services and some of the work that we did that we released towards the end of last year clearly showed some evidence of maternity services under pressure, adversely impacting on the care women received.

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“But we've also got to recognise that the care they receive elsewhere, you know, before pregnancy, very importantly as well as after pregnancy, and perhaps in different areas of the health and care system. You know, we mustn't forget the importance of maternal mental health.

“So making sure that we've got good mental health services as well as good maternity services will have an impact on these figures.” The leading causes of death from 2020 to 2023 in pregnant and recently pregnant women were thrombosis and thromboembolism.

Covid was the second highest cause, followed by heart disease. Professor Knight said: “We definitely did see increasing concerns about women's mental health and and and sadly, a number of women who died by suicide in in 2020, and at at that time services you know mental health services almost completely stopped.

“You know there were no face-to-face consultations, and I think there were very definitely women who had mental distress at the time. I mean I don't want people to think that perinatal mental health is only important during the pandemic.

“We know that, you know, between 10 and 20 per cent of women giving birth can have a perinatal mental health problem, whether it be anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder. So it's a really important thing to be aware of — for women to be aware of when they've got concerning symptoms, but also for families to recognise when women simply aren't themselves.

“And I always say, anybody that's expressing thoughts around suicide, it's really important that they get help.”