The June issue of the Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition published by our colleagues at icddr,b focuses on the neglected issue of maternal morbidities.
Introducing the issue, Mary Ellen Stanton and Neal Brandes of USAID write:
This series of papers presents, for the first time in two geographic areas, a comprehensive snapshot of the short- and long-term consequences of acute maternal morbidity. The icddr,b surveillance site in Matlab, Bangladesh, has a unique set of records of the reproductive health of individual women that provide data accumulated for decades. This was selected as an ideal site to draw upon the database to examine retrospectively long-term and prospectively selected short-term consequences of maternal ill-health. This is the first attempt to obtain greater precision on the consequences of maternal ill-health, using a robust methodology and an extensive dataset, with added qualitative studies and postpartum physical examinations of women following childbirth. In addition, we have included a study that provides contrasting and additional information from Action Research and Training for Health in rural Rajasthan, India.
In an editorial, Marge Koblinsky et al. note how little we currently know about maternal morbidities:
While the estimates of maternal mortality and its consequences are built on relatively limited data, women who suffer from direct obstetric complications that kill—obstructed or prolonged labour, puerperal sepsis, septic abortion, severe pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, and postpartum haemorrhage—are estimated to be far higher in number yet less well-documented. The global estimates range from 15% of pregnant women suffering from complications—about 20 million women annually—to 1-2% in resource-poor settings when the definition is restricted to the most severe morbidities.
Even less is known about the numbers and description of the consequences women may suffer as a result of pregnancy and childbirth and the life threatening obstetric complications. These consequences—maternal morbidities or disabilities—are estimated to affect 15-20 million women worldwide each year.
The other papers published in the issue explore:
- the types and severities of maternal morbidities in Matlab and Chandpur, Bangladesh;
- social, economic, and cultural factors associated with maternal morbidities;
- perceptions and consequences of cesarean births;
- psychological well-being during pregnancy;
- physical and emotional violence against women with maternal disabilities;
- the impact of maternal morbidities on child development;
- the economic cost of maternal morbidities;
- community-based methods for understanding maternal morbidities; and
- the physical, economic, and psychological consequences of morbidities in the first year postpartum.