Background: Although maternal near miss (MNM) is often considered a 'great save' because the woman survived life-threatening complications, these complications may have resulted in loss of a child or severe neonatal morbidity. The objective of this study was to assess proportion of perinatal mortality (stillbirths and early neonatal deaths) in a cohort of women with MNM in eastern Ethiopia. In addition, we compared perinatal outcomes among women who fulfilled the World Health Organization (WHO) and the sub-Saharan African (SSA) MNM criteria.
Methods: In a prospective cohort design, women with potentially life-threatening conditions (PLTC) (severe postpartum hemorrhage, severe pre-(eclampsia), sepsis/severe systemic infection, and ruptured uterus) were identified every day from January 1st, 2016, to April 30th, 2017, and followed until discharge in the two main hospitals in Harar, Ethiopia. Maternal and perinatal outcomes were collected using both sets of criteria. Numbers and proportions of stillbirths and early neonatal deaths were computed and compared.
Results: Of 1054 women admitted with PTLC during the study period, 594 women fulfilled any of the MNM criteria. After excluding near misses related to abortion, ectopic pregnancy or among undelivered women, 465 women were included, in whom 149 (32%) perinatal deaths occurred: 132 (88.6%) stillbirths and 17 (11.4%) early neonatal deaths. In absolute numbers, the SSA criteria picked up more perinatal deaths compared to the WHO criteria, but the proportion of perinatal deaths was lower in SSA group compared to the WHO (149/465, 32% vs 62/100, 62%). Perinatal mortality was more likely among near misses with antepartum hemorrhage (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 4.81; 95% CI = 1.76-13.20), grand multiparous women (aOR = 4.31; 95% confidence interval CI = 1.23-15.25), and women fulfilling any of the WHO near miss criteria (aOR = 4.89; 95% CI = 2.17-10.99).
Conclusion: WHO MNM criteria pick up fewer perinatal deaths, although perinatal mortality occurred in a larger proportion of women fulfilling the WHO MNM criteria compared to the SSA MNM criteria. As women with MNM have increased risk of perinatal deaths (in both definitions), a holistic care addressing the needs of the mother and baby should be considered in management of women with MNM.
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