Maternal mortality in Georgia: Incidence, causes and level of underreporting: A national reproductive age mortality study 2014

Nino Berdzuli (Coresponding Author), Nino Lomia, Anne Cathrine Staff, Maia Kereselidze, Gunta Lazdane, Anne Flem Jacobsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Accurate data on maternal mortality are essential for assessing progress towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).The aim of the study was to determine the incidence and causes of maternal deaths in Georgia, then explore the potential for improvement of quality of maternal health care. The study’s secondary aims were to identify the level of underreporting of maternal deaths in Georgian vital statistics over 1 year (2012) and to compare these results with previous data from 2006. The study findings allow to support the country in developing evidence-based policies and tracking progress towards meeting SDG targets. Methods: A national Reproductive Age Mortality Survey (RAMOS) was conducted in Georgia in 2014-15. Multiple data sources were used to identify deaths of women aged 15-49 years between January and December 2012. All deaths in women of reproductive age were investigated through verbal autopsy (VA) diagnoses. Deaths in women during pregnancy or one-year postpartum were further investigated by conducting interviews and medical record reviews at the last medical facility which provided health care for the woman during her fatal condition. A specialist panel reviewed these cases and assigned underlining causes of deaths. Results: We found that 98% of deaths among women of reproductive age were registered by Georgia’s civil registration and vital statistics system (CRVS). A total of 918 deaths met the study inclusion criteria. Thirty-six (4.1%) women died during pregnancy or within one-year postpartum. Among these 36 deaths, 23 (63.8%) were maternal deaths, 15 early (either during pregnancy or 42 days postpartum) and eight late (43-365 days postpartum) deaths (65.2% vs 34.8%). The remaining 13 of 36 deaths were coincidental deaths. Fourteen maternal deaths were reported by official statistics and nine deaths were not included in these statistics. Thus, the underreporting rate was 39%. Direct obstetric causes accounted for 73.9% (n=17) of maternal deaths, whereas 26.1% (n=6) were indirect. The leading causes of direct maternal deaths were infection (21.7%), hemorrhage (17.4%), pulmonary embolism (13.0%), and pregnancy-induced hypertension (8.7%). The RAMOS study calculated a maternal mortality ratio (early maternal deaths) of 26.3 per 100,000 live births compared with the official figure of 22.8 per 100,000 live births. Discussions: Registration of early maternal deaths significantly improved since last survey in 2008, while indirect and late maternal deaths continue to be unrecognized, as reflected in official Georgian statistics. The difference between RAMOS study findings and officially reported maternal mortality rates is minimal, showing improvements in detection of maternal deaths by the national maternal mortality surveillance system. The greatest number of direct obstetric deaths occur in the first week postpartum, which likely reflects deficiencies in quality of care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-286
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Women's Health
Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2020


  • Causes
  • Incidence
  • Maternal death
  • Maternal mortality
  • Reproductive age mortality study
  • Underreporting of maternal deaths
  • Verbal autopsy

Field of Science*

  • 3.2 Clinical medicine
  • 3.3 Health sciences

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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