Maternal deaths associated with eclampsia in South Africa: Lessons to learn from the confidential enquiries into maternal deaths, 2005 - 2007

J Moodley


Eclampsia is the commonest direct cause of maternal death in South Africa. The latest Saving Mothers Report (2005-2007) indicates that there were 622 maternal deaths due to hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. Of these, 334 (55.3%) were due to eclampsia; of the eclamptic deaths, 50 were over the age of 35 years and 83 were under 20 years old.
Avoidable factors involved patient related factors (mainly delay in seeking help), administrative factors (mainly delay in transport) and health personnel issues (mainly due to delay in referring patients).
The major causes of death were cerebrovascular accidents and cardiac failure. The majority of deaths due to cardiac failure were due to pulmonary oedema.
To reduce deaths from eclampsia, more attention must be given to the detection of pre-eclampsia; the provision of information on the advantages of antenatal care to the population at large and training of health professions in the management of obstetric emergencies.

Author's affiliations

J Moodley, Women's Health and HIV Research Group, University of KwaZulu-Natal

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maternal health

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2010;100(11):717-719.

Article History

Date submitted: 2010-07-30
Date published: 2010-11-09

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