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DEFINITIONS

Public health agencies and partners responsible for maternal mortality surveillance and those that write about maternal mortality must be cautious and transparent in the definitions they use to quantify and characterize deaths during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period.

This section contains definitions of key terms used by Maternal Mortality Review Committees (MMRCs) as well as other terms used by national surveillance systems.


Pregnancy-Associated Death icon

Pregnancy-Associated Death

A death during or within one year of pregnancy, regardless of the cause. These deaths make up the universe of maternal mortality; within that universe are pregnancy-related deaths and pregnancy-associated, but not related deaths.
Pregnancy-Related Death icon

Pregnancy-Related Death

A death during or within one year of pregnancy, from a pregnancy complication, a chain of events initiated by pregnancy, or the aggravation of an unrelated condition by the physiologic effects of pregnancy.
Pregnancy-Associated, but Not Related Death icon

Pregnancy-Associated, but Not Related Death

A death during or within one year of pregnancy, from a cause that is not related to pregnancy.
Pregnancy-Related Mortality Ratio icon

Pregnancy-Related Mortality Ratio

The number of pregnancy-related deaths (using the above definition) per 100,000 live births.
Preventability icon

Preventability

A death is considered preventable if there was at least some chance of the death being prevented by one or more reasonable changes to patient, family, provider, facility, system, and/or community factors. This definition is used by MMRCs to determine if a death they review is preventable.
Maternal Death icon

Maternal Death

The death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, regardless of the duration and the site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management, but not from accidental causes. This definition is used by the National Center for Health Statistics and the World Health Organization.
Maternal Mortality Ratio icon

Maternal Mortality Ratio

The number of maternal deaths (using the above definition) per 100,000 live births. The maternal mortality ratio is also colloquially called the maternal mortality rate.
Maternal Mortality icon

Maternal Mortality

This site uses the term maternal mortality to encompass the topic of deaths during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period up to 365 days from the end of pregnancy.

Learn

Learn the basics about Maternal Mortality Review Committees and key definitions

Practice

Apply tips, skills and best practices for high quality maternal mortality review processes

Implement

Explore guiding information and key considerations for the implementation of a review committee