Provision of intensive care to severely ill pregnant women is associated with reduced mortality: Results from the WHO Multicountry Survey on Maternal and Newborn Health

Fabiano M. Soares, Rodolfo C. Pacagnella, Özge Tunçalp, José G. Cecatti, Joshua P. Vogel, Ganchimeg Togoobaatar, Joao P. Souza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To estimate the impact of the use of Intensive Care Units (ICU) in maternal mortality. Methods: A secondary analysis of the WHO Multicountry Survey on Maternal and Newborn Health, a multicenter cross-sectional study conducted in maternity hospitals in 29 countries. Women who had severe maternal outcome (maternal death or maternal near-miss) and the availability and use of ICU beds were included. The women were categorized according to availability of ICU, and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to determine the risk of maternal death. To rate the severity of complications, the Maternal Severity Score (MSS) and the Maternal Severity Index (MSI) were used. Results: Of 314 623 women observed, 24 396 had severe complications. Of those, 16 981 (69.6%) were in facilities with ICUs; 1573 women were admitted to ICUs (6.4% of women with maternal complications and 0.5% of total). There is a significant protective effect for maternal mortality for patients with more severe conditions using ICUs (odds ratio 0.16, 95% confidence interval 0.07–0.33). Conclusion: The use of ICU was associated with significantly reduced odds of maternal death in obstetric patients with severe clinical conditions. The availability and appropriate use of good-quality ICUs are therefore crucial to reduce maternal mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-353
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Cross-sectional study
  • Intensive Care Unit
  • Maternal morbidity
  • Maternal mortality
  • Maternal near-miss
  • Severity classification

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