Pregnant trauma victims experience nearly 2-fold higher mortality compared to their nonpregnant counterparts

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Trauma is the leading nonobstetric cause of death in women of reproductive age, and pregnant women in particular may be at increased risk of violent trauma. Management of trauma in pregnancy is complicated by altered maternal physiology, provider expertise, potential disparate imaging, and distorted anatomy. Little is known about the impact of trauma on maternal mortality.

OBJECTIVE:

We sought to: (1) characterize nonviolent and violent trauma among pregnant women; (2) determine whether pregnancy is associated with increased mortality following traumatic injury; and (3) identify risk factors for trauma-related death in pregnant women.

STUDY DESIGN:

We studied 1148 trauma events among pregnant girls and women and 43,608 trauma events among nonpregnant girls and women of reproductive age (14-49 years) who presented to any accredited trauma center in Pennsylvania for treatment of trauma-related injuries from 2005 through 2015, as captured in the Pennsylvania Trauma Outcome Study. Traumas were categorized as violent (eg, homicide or assault) or nonviolent (eg, motor vehicle accident or accidental fall). We used modified Poisson regression to estimate relative rate of trauma-related death, adjusting for demographic characteristics and severity of trauma.

RESULTS:

Compared to nonpregnant women, pregnant women and girls had a lower injury severity score (8.9 vs 10.9, P < .001) and were significantly more likely to experience violent trauma (15.9% vs 9.8%, P < .001). Pregnant trauma victims had a 1.6-fold higher rate of mortality compared to their nonpregnant counterparts (P < .001), and were both more likely to be dead on arrival and to die during their hospital course (adjusted relative risk, 2.33, P < .001, and adjusted relative risk, 1.79, P = .004, respectively). Pregnancy was associated with increased mortality in both victims of nonviolent and violent trauma (adjusted relative risk, 1.69, P = .002, and adjusted relative risk, 1.60, P = .007, respectively). Pregnant trauma victims were less likely to undergo surgery (adjusted relative risk, 0.70, P = .001) and more likely to be transferred to another facility (adjusted relative risk, 1.72, P < .001). Even after adjusting for demographics and injury severity score, violent trauma was associated with 3.14-fold higher mortality in pregnant women and girls compared to nonviolent trauma (adjusted relative risk, 3.14, P = .003).

CONCLUSION:

Pregnant women and girls are nearly twice as likely to die after trauma and twice as likely to experience violent trauma. Universal screening for violence and trauma during pregnancy may provide an opportunity to identify women at risk for death during pregnancy.

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