Maternal deaths in Colorado: self-harm is the leading cause

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  • In Colorado, the majority of maternal deaths were due to accidental overdose and suicide; 90% of deaths occurred in the postpartum period.

Why this matters

  • Improved monitoring and psychiatric treatment is needed to reduce the death rate in the postpartum period.
  • Universal screening at prenatal, hospital, and postpartum visit may improve detection rates.  
Key results
  • 211 maternal deaths were recorded during the study period.
  • 30% of deaths were classified as "maternal death by self-harm (accidental overdose or suicide)".
  • The most common detected class of drugs were opioids.
  • History of drug abuse was documented in 16.9%, prior psychiatric diagnosis documented in 54.2%, and prior suicide attempt documented in 10.2% of records of women with ...