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Figures published by the Maternal Death Enquiry Ireland (MDE) show that the rate of maternal deaths in Ireland is extremely rare and is marginally ahead of rates in the UK. The data also found that 66% of maternal deaths were due to a pre-existing health condition, with heart disease being the leading cause of death.
These figures should offer reassurance about the high level of maternal care and the safety of the Irish maternity services for women and babies. A maternal death rate of 6.5 per 100,000 or 1 in every 15,301 is extremely low and compares with a rate of 8.8 per 100,000 in the UK and a rate of 26.7 per 100,000 in the US.
Dr Peter BoylanChair, Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
The new data also found that the leading cause of maternal deaths in Ireland were due to pre-existing medical conditions with a third due to heart disease with venous thromboembolism (deep vein blood clots) and suicide also feature prominently as leading causes of direct maternal death here.
There is always room for improvement. Guidelines for optimum care are constantly reviewed and updated as is the training of doctors and midwives who are caring for mothers and delivering babies across Ireland. The implementation of the National Maternity Strategy is also a very positive step for the Irish maternity services and the establishment of the National Women and Infants Health Programme. It is essential that women with underlying physical and mental health problems are supported and receive advice around medication and to plan for contraception as well as the next pregnancy. It is important for all women to keep as healthy as possible before becoming pregnant to avoid problems. Forward planning with their doctor from when they find out they are pregnant will also help to identify and manage potential health conditions they may not be aware of
Dr Peter Boylan
The figures were presented at the MBRRACE-UK Scientific Meeting held at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and supported by the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which is the national training body for doctors working in this field of medicine.
The Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is the national professional and training body for Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Ireland, working to ensure the highest standards in women’s health. It is based at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.
About MDE Ireland
MDE Ireland aims to promote safer pregnancy by conducting confidential reviews into maternal deaths, identifying learning points, and using its findings to formulate and disseminate recommendations.
Launched in April 2009, MDE Ireland was developed with the support of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Health Services Executive (HSE), the Department of Health and Children, and the State Claims Agency.
MDE Ireland is a stand-alone office, based in the National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre (NPEC), and is funded by the HSE. Since its inception, MDE Ireland has carried out confidential enquiries into maternal deaths occurring in Ireland.
MBRRACE-UK is the collaboration appointed by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) to continue the national programme of work investigating maternal deaths, stillbirths and infant deaths, including the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths (CEMD). The programme of work is now called the Maternal, Newborn and Infant Clinical Outcome Review Programme (MNI-CORP).
The aim of the MBRRACE-UK programme is to provide robust information to support the delivery of safe, equitable, high quality, patient-centred maternal, newborn and infant health services.