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Homicide, suicide outpace traditional causes of death in pregnant, postpartum women
Date:10/20/2011

e than half. Older, Caucasian women were at greatest risk. Among homicides, 77.7 percent occurred during pregnancy and more than half the women were age 24 or younger and unmarried. Nearly half were black, even though black women accounted for less than 20 percent of the live births, and 45 percent were associated with violence from a current or former partner.

In follow-up, Palladino is surveying practicing physicians about their practice patterns in treating depression during pregnancy. She and her colleagues also want to learn more about precipitating circumstances such as substance abuse, stress and mental illness and treatment. Studies already indicate that intervention lowers the recurrence risk of intimate partner violence in pregnancy and postpartum.

It was her early experience as an obstetrician-gynecologist who felt ill-prepared to treat depression in pregnant women that got her interested in the topic. A 2003 report in The British Journal of Psychiatry identifying suicide as the leading cause of maternal death in Great Britain sealed the deal. "Unfortunately what we found paralleled the Great Britain findings," Palladino said.

The good news is that evidence-based guidelines for depression treatment during pregnancy or postpartum have been developed by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and The American Psychiatric Association, she said. The bad news is that women and their providers might be hesitant to seek or provide care because mental illness and pregnancy seem counterintuitive.

Collateral materials such as police, coroner and medical examiner reports also were examined as part of the CDC database to provide greater context for the cause of death. While the overall pregnancy-associated violent death rate was stable over the four-year study period, those numbers could be underreported because the pregnancy or postpartum status was marked "unknown" in the majority of female deaths in the CDC dat
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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@georgiahealth.edu
706-721-4421
Georgia Health Sciences University
Source:Eurekalert  

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