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Maternal deaths due to suicide and overdose in the state of Michigan from 2008 to 2018

Published:November 11, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajogmf.2022.100811

      BACKGROUND

      Recent reports indicate that the contribution of deaths related to suicide and overdose are increasing, and may be the leading contributors to maternal mortality up to one year postpartum.

      OBJECTIVE

      This study aimed to provide a granular assessment of maternal deaths due to suicide or drug overdose in the state of Michigan from 2008 to 2018.

      STUDY DESIGN

      This retrospective study involved a secondary review of deceased patients’ records from 2008 to 2018 stored at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services through the Michigan Maternal Mortality Surveillance Program. Pregnancy-related and pregnancy-associated deaths were reviewed. A descriptive analysis of maternal characteristics and identified trends was presented in deidentified aggregate form.

      RESULTS

      There were 237 maternal deaths due to suicide or overdose from 2008 to 2018 included in the review. Overall, 70.9% had a documented psychiatric illness in their medical chart, with 48.1% having ≥2 psychiatric illnesses. However, only 34.5% (58/168) of these patients had documentation of taking psychotropic medication for their illness. Of those who died because of accidental or indeterminate substance overdose, 71.1% (138/194) had a known history of substance use disorder. Only 27.4% (43/157) of patients with a documented substance use disorder received medication-assisted treatment. Of those with substance overdose deaths, 42.9% had an opioid prescription, 44.3% had a benzodiazepine prescription, and 32.5% had a prescription for both. Prescription opioids were the most common substance found on postmortem toxicology report, and of these patients, 45.9% had a physician-prescribed opioid.

      CONCLUSION

      Most pregnant individuals had documented significant risk factors for mental illness or substance use disorder; however, very few had documented pharmacologic therapy for their psychiatric or addiction illness. There is an urgent need to implement effective multidisciplinary health system mitigation strategies that address pregnancy and its intersection with behavioral health.

      Key words

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