Pregnancy Related Mortality has Increased since 1987
Maternal Sepsis is the Second Leading Cause of
Maternal Mortality

The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world, despite spending more than any other country on hospital-based maternity care. Over the past two decades, the rate of pregnancy-related deaths in the US has doubled, with black women three times more likely to die of pregnancy-related issues than white women.

Maternal sepsis is a leading cause of maternal morbidity and mortality. However, population-based estimates of maternal sepsis occurring after delivery hospitalization have been limited because previous studies have focused on select populations or have not followed up patients longitudinally.1,2 Thus, the burden of maternal sepsis and sepsis-related deaths may be underestimated.

Furthermore, for each maternal death, there are 50 women who experience life-threatening morbidity from sepsis. This is concerning, given that prompt recognition and rapid treatment of pregnant and postpartum women with sepsis usually results in good outcomes in this young and generally healthy population.

Fever and Chills
Lower Abdominal Pain
Foul-smelling Vaginal Discharge
Vaginal Bleeding
Increased Heart Rate
Feelings of Anxiety, Discomfort or Illness

  • If a client has even a few of these symptoms, encourage them to seek medical help immediately and to ask their provider: "could it be sepsis?"

Some causes of perinatal infections:
mastitis, miscarriage, preterm delivery, membrane rupture due to prolonged or obstructed labor, C-Section, stillbirth, multiple gestation, pneumonia, strep throat, urinary tract infection.
This week's email was inspired by a conversation with a local hospital staff member. When I asked what education women lack when they arrive at the hospital for delivery, she said, "The signs of Sepsis and how to advocate for yourself when you don't feel well post partum". This is information that can help save lives.


Sonoma County Maternal Child and Adolescent Health
Phone: 800-427-8982
Sonoma County Maternal Child
and Adolescent Health | Website