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Fortuitous—ambiguously inappropriate to describe maternal death?

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.320.7240.986 (Published 08 April 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:986
  1. Graham Howarth, associate professor in obstetrics and gynaecology
  1. Pretoria, South Africa

    Irrespective of the pregnancy duration, if a women dies while pregnant or in the first six weeks thereafter, the death is classified as a maternal death. The reports on confidential inquiries into maternal deaths in England and Wales subclassify maternal deaths into direct, indirect, fortuitous, and unknown. Direct maternal deaths are when the death is as a direct result of an obstetric complication or intervention. An indirect maternal death is when death follows underlying maternal disease that is exacerbated by the pregnancy. Unknown maternal deaths occur in pregnancy or in the puerperium where no underlying cause is found. Fortuitous maternal deaths are deaths that occur from causes unrelated to the pregnancy and include violent deaths and suicide.

    Maternal deaths unrelated to the pregnancy do occur and are important to classify, particularly …

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