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MBRRACE-UK report response

News 14 January 2021

The latest MBRRACE-UK report Saving Lives, Improving Mothers’ Care which examines the care received by women who die during or up to a year after pregnancy has been released today. The current report covers all pregnancy-associated deaths involving UK women between 2016 and 2018. 

The results indicate that whilst maternal death is still rare in the UK, there are some important actions identified to prevent women from dying in the future.

Key findings include:

  • Pregnancy remains very safe in the UK. In 2016-18, 2,235,159 women gave birth in the UK of which 547 died during or up to a year after pregnancy from causes associated with their pregnancy. 
  • The number of deaths from Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) almost doubled compared with the previous three years. Most women who died had clear risk factors for SUDEP, but had not had prevention measures discussed with them, or a medication review. 
  • Maternal death rates were almost four times higher for women from Black ethnic backgrounds and almost two times higher for women from Asian ethnic backgrounds, compared to white women. 

Responding to the findings, Dr Edward Morris, President at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: 

“This latest report by MBRRACE-UK is crucial for understanding the reasons behind maternal deaths in the UK and how we as healthcare professionals can work towards preventing them. 

“One area of concern highlighted in the report is the continued and unacceptable inequities in maternal mortality for Black, Asian and mixed ethnicity women, and the urgent need for further research in this area. 

“The RCOG will continue working to address disparities in girls' and women's health outcomes and experiences through the Race Equality Taskforce, which brings together a wide range of stakeholders including women, clinicians and the UK governments to drive meaningful change. 

“Progress will also depend on decisive government action, and we continue to urge the UK governments to commit to a target of a 50 per cent reduction in maternal mortality for Black, Asian and minority ethnic women over the next five years.  

 “We are also concerned that the number of pregnant women dying from epilepsy has almost doubled compared with the previous three years. If you have epilepsy and are planning a baby, let your GP or epilepsy specialist know. They can review your medication and discuss with you the best way to prepare for pregnancy.”

Ends

For media enquiries, please contact the RCOG press office on +44 (0)20 777 26444/ (0)7986 183167 or email pressoffice@rcog.org.uk

About the RCOG

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is a medical charity that champions the provision of high quality women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision.