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Chen YH, Lau G
Correspondence: Dr Helen Chen, firstname.lastname@example.org
Introduction Maternal mortality in Singapore, as in other developed countries, has remained low in the past decade. In the United Kingdom and Australia, maternal deaths from suicide and psychiatric causes have been the leading cause of maternal mortality, and there have therefore been comprehensive healthcare programmes to address the mental health needs of mothers.
Methods In this study, we looked at maternal deaths from 2000 to 2004, by linking coronial cases of female suicide in the reproductive age group 15-45 years, with the birth registration database, to identify both early and late maternal deaths.
Results There was only one identified maternal death among 589 female suicides aged 15-45 years, occurring in a teenager within the first month postpartum. There was likely also another case that was unconfirmed and unreported.
Conclusion From this preliminary study, suicide and psychiatric causes are not significant causes of maternal mortality in Singapore. However, given that the epidemiology of postnatal depression statistics mirror that of the other countries, it is possible that maternal suicides have been underreported, and the load may well be higher. There is a need for a similar confidential enquiry into maternal deaths to be set up here, as is already in place in various countries, notably the United Kingdom and Australia, for the past decade.
Keywords: female suicide, maternal deaths, maternal mortality, severe maternal mental illness, suicide
Singapore Med J. 2008; 49(9): 694-7