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Table 2 Maternal death case definitions

From: Towards elimination of maternal deaths: maternal deaths surveillance and response

Cases Definitions
Death of a woman of reproductive age (WRA): Death of woman in reproductive years, usually 15–49 years (although some countries may decide to use other reference period years given the importance of teenage pregnancy and early marriage). All death of WRA should be investigated to determine whether the woman was pregnant or within 42 days of the end of a pregnancy.
Suspected case The death of any woman while pregnant or within 42 days of the termination of pregnancy including deaths where there is a suggestion of a pregnancy even though it may not have been confirmed. In places where the concept of ‘42 days’ may not be well understood the time period can be extended to 2–3 months to ensure that all maternal deaths are captured
Probable case All deaths of women while pregnant or within 42 days of the termination of pregnancy exception of those that are easily determined to be caused by incidental or accidental causes (e.g. motor vehicle accidents)
Confirmed case Probable case with ascertainment of cause of death (either using physician ascertainment of medical records or probabilistic modelling of verbal autopsy) and is defined by a death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of pregnancy ending, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management, but not from accidental or incidental causes*
Late maternal death Death of a woman from direct or indirect obstetric causes more than 42 days but less than one year after termination of pregnancy
  1. *Confirmation of a maternal death is sometimes challenging, particularly for indirect deaths. Final confirmation is generally done by a maternal mortality review committee.