Pregnancy Death Rates Caused By Self-Harm Becoming High, Study Says

By Collie Lane, Parent Herald November 11, 10:47 am

Suicide and self-harm are occurring in most first time mothers. Overdoses and other self-harming acts are due to depression, study finds.

The rate of "self-harm" has been high and seen as among the leading causes of pregnancy-related deaths in Colorado, according to a study. Of the 211 maternal deaths in Colorado from 2004 to 2012, about 30 percent attributed to self-harm.

The study showed that most of the suicide cases were involved overdoses. Most often, such attempts, either successful or not, happen in the year after a woman gave birth.

Self-harm is different from suicide in a way that there is no intention to die. However, some self-harm cases have led to maternal deaths. These often happen ahead of car accidents, some medical conditions, and homicide, as researchers suggested to WebMD.

Self-harm deaths are gradually becoming standard, according to lead researcher Dr. Torri Metz, one of Denver Health Medical Center's maternal-fetal medicine specialist. She also pointed that there is no clarity if other U.S. states are also showing the same pattern.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggested that all women should be screened at least once for "perinatal" depression. Some symptoms seen during pregnancy or in the first year after a woman gives birth should be adequately addressed, they said. Dr. Richard Silver of NorthShore University Health System in Chicago agrees with this.

"We think women should be screened for depression at multiple points, during and after pregnancy," Dr. Silver said while referring to their center's policy.

The problem with screening though will be that of having some women slipping through the cracks even to great centers. One of the reasons for this would be the stigma connected to mental health disorders. Silver also added that most mothers do not have time for this.

Silver is positive that this problem can be solved especially when they launch their new program that uses a computer-based tool to screen women for perinatal depression over their phones. These will be a breakthrough, the doctor implied.

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