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Canada needs to do more to understand and prevent maternal suicide, with regular in-depth audits of deaths and vigilance of health care providers to detect postpartum depression, states an editorial in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
The recent suicide of a mother in Manitoba and the deaths of her two young children have focused attention on the link between postpartum depression and suicide.
The United Kingdom and other countries conduct case-by-case analyses of maternal deaths to understand causes, but Canada does not. In the UK, "more women who had delivered a baby in the previous 6 months died from suicide than from any other pre-existing medical illness that might complicate pregnancy, including heart disease," writes Dr. Kirsten Patrick, Deputy Editor, CMAJ.
"It is critical that these deaths and other maternal deaths be carefully investigated and reported to see if there were potential failings in care - not to lay blame but to learn and to consider what might be done differently in future."
Physicians should also be vigilant in identifying postpartum depression in mothers and referring women to the appropriate supports.
"Many barriers can prevent women with postpartum depression from receiving effective treatment. We need to do more to find out what these barriers are. Undertaking a regular in-depth audit of maternal deaths due to suicide in Canada to examine why some women slip through the cracks would be a good place to start," concludes Patrick.
CMAJ 2013. DOI:10.1503/cmaj.131248
Author: Kirsten Patrick MB BCh
Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Click 'references' tab above for source.
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