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Tuesday 2 September 2014

Savita recorded as only maternal death despite five further fatalities

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

Published 05/06/2013 | 05:00

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Savita Halappanavar
Savita Halappanavar

THE death of Savita Halappanavar is the only maternal death recorded by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) last year – although at least five more fatalities were reported by maternity units.

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The CSO figures underestimate the real number of maternal deaths because of the limited sources they refer to.

A spokesman said they rely on death certificates for information and do not contact hospitals when compiling the figures.

The latest annual CSO report for 2012 records just one death, which happened in the last quarter of the year and involved a woman aged 25 to 34.

Ms Halappanavar, the Indian-born dentist whose death has been the subject of two inquiries and an inquest, died in University Hospital Galway on October 28 last .

The fact only one death was recorded by the CSO again underlines that not all of these tragedies are fully captured in official statistics.

It has already been reported by the Coombe Maternity Hospital in Dublin that two women died there last year, including a mother of twins.

There were three maternal deaths in Cork University Hospital last year, including two women who died in pregnancy and after giving birth. A new report last year indicated for the first time that some deaths are being missed and the rate of maternal death in Ireland is double the official figure.

The official maternal death rate, based on the CSO figures, was four per 100,000 births.

However, the first report from the Maternal Death Enquiry (MDE) Ireland says the true maternal death rate is eight per 100,000 births.

The reason for the gap is that the CSO relies solely on death certificates but MDE Ireland, which is funded by the HSE, gets information from different sources including hospitals, Coroners' Courts and public health nurses.

The report, which covers 2009 to 2011, found that 25 women who attended maternity hospitals here died during that time.

The CSO figures missed 20 of those deaths.

Irish Independent

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