Homicide as a Leading Cause of Maternal Mortality in the US
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:
Wallace et al. (Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2021) sought to determine the national pregnancy-associated homicide prevalence
Female decedents aged 10 to 44 in the US
Data derived from the National Center for health Statistics 2018 and 2019
Pregnancy-associated homicide mortality was compared to homicide mortality among non-pregnant, non-postpartum women and direct maternal causes of death
Stratification performed by race/ethnicity and age
2-year pregnancy-associated homicide mortality ratio (deaths/100,000 live births)
Comparative risk of homicide in the perinatal period (pregnancy and up to 1 year postpartum) vs nonpregnant, nonpostpartum females
4705 homicide victims of reproductive age
Homicide rate among women in the perinatal period was 16% higher than in non-pregnant, non-postpartum women (P<0.05)
Perinatal: 3.62 deaths per 100,000 live births
Non-pregnant, non-postpartum: 3.12 deaths per 100,000 population
Homicide mortality ratios during pregnancy or within 42 days of the end of pregnancy exceeded hypertensive disorders, hemorrhage, and infection, by more than twofold
Pregnancy was associated with a significantly elevated homicide risk among
Girls and younger women (age 10 to 24 years), across racial and ethnic subgroups
Two thirds of the fatal injuries occurred in the home (64.8%), and most involved firearms (69.2%)
In the US, homicide is the leading cause of death for women in the perinatal period
The authors state
Although this is important information for monitoring progress towards the elimination of pregnancy-associated homicide, information alone will do nothing to save lives
Already, increasing efforts within individual states have been devoted to identifying and reviewing maternal deaths due to violence to make recommendations at individual, community, system, and policy levels for the prevention of future cases
Although encouraging, a commitment to the actual implementation of policies and investments known to be effective at protecting and the promoting the health and safety of girls and women must follow
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