On October 9th, 2012, PLoS Medicine published a paper, Serious and Life-Threatening Pregnancy-Related Infections: Opportunities to Reduce the Global Burden, that describes the global burden of pregnancy-related infections (including and beyond puerperal sepsis) and highlights opportunities for screening and treatment in low and middle-income countries.
From the paper:
Infection is an important, potentially preventable, and yet often overlooked cause of maternal mortality and morbidity as well fetal and neonatal well-being. Puerperal sepsis, narrowly defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as infection of the genital tract occurring any time between the rupture of membranes or labor and the 42nd day postpartum, is the third leading cause of maternal mortality, responsible for 10%–12% of maternal deaths. Deaths due to puerperal sepsis disproportionately occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The risk of death from puerperal sepsis is 2.7-fold higher in Africa, 1.9-fold higher in Asia, and 2.1-fold higher in Latin America than in developed countries.
However, the impact of infection during pregnancy upon maternal, fetal, and neonatal mortality and morbidity is much greater than that attributed to puerperal sepsis alone—the impact includes deaths and disability from other infections such as urinary tract, soft tissue, and abortion-related infections.
Read the full paper here.