Maternal mortality and psychiatric morbidity in the perinatal period

Phillip M Boyce and Jodi Barton
Med J Aust 2007; 187 (8): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2007.tb01367.x
Published online: 15 October 2007

To the Editor: Austin et al1 bring to our attention findings from the report on maternal deaths in Australia in which 26 suicides were reported, making it one of the leading causes of indirect maternal deaths in the perinatal period — a finding consistent with the Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths report from the United Kingdom.2 These reports raise the issue of the importance and risk of maternal mental illness in the perinatal period.

  • Department of Psychiatry, Westmead Hospital, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW.


  • 1. Austin M-P, Kildea S, Sullivan E. Maternal mortality and psychiatric morbidity in the perinatal period: challenges and opportunities for prevention in the Australian setting. Med J Aust 2007; 186: 364-367. <MJA full text>
  • 2. National Institute for Clinical Excellence; Scottish Executive Health Department; Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Northern Ireland. Why mothers die 1997–1999. Fifth report of the Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths in the United Kingdom. London: Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, 2001. (accessed Sep 2007).
  • 3. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Suicides, Australia, 2005. Canberra: ABS, 2007. (ABS Cat. No. 3309.0.)
  • 4. Appleby L. Suicidal behaviour in childbearing women. Int Rev Psychiatry 1996; 8: 107-115.
  • 5. Buist A, Bilszta J, Milgrom J, et al. The beyondblue National Postnatal Depression Program. Prevention and early intervention 2001–2005. Final report. Melbourne: beyondblue, 2006: 24-25.
  • 6. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. Antenatal and postnatal mental health: clinical management and service guidance. London: NICE, 2007. (accessed Sep 2007).


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