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OBJECTIVE: To identify factors associated with progression from pregnancy-associated severe sepsis to death in the UK. DESIGN: A population-based case-control analysis using data from the UK Obstetric Surveillance System (UKOSS) and the UK Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Death (CEMD). SETTING: All pregnancy care and death settings in UK hospitals. POPULATION: All non-influenza sepsis-related maternal deaths (January 2009 to December 2012) were included as cases (n = 43), and all women who survived severe non-influenza sepsis in pregnancy (June 2011 to May 2012) were included as controls (n = 358). METHODS: Cases and controls were identified using the CEMD and UKOSS. Multivariable logistic regression was used to estimate adjusted odds ratios (aOR) with 95% confidence intervals. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Odds ratios for socio-demographic, medical, obstetric and management factors in women who died from sepsis, compared with those who survived. RESULTS: Four factors were included in the final regression model. Women who died were more likely to have never received antibiotics [aOR = 22.7, 95% confidence interval (CI) 3.64-141.6], to have medical comorbidities (aOR = 2.53, 95%CI 1.23-5.23) and to be multiparous (aOR = 3.57, 95%CI 1.62-7.89). Anaemia (aOR = 13.5, 95%CI 3.17-57.6) and immunosuppression (aOR = 15.0, 95%CI 1.93-116.9) were the two most important factors driving the association between medical comorbidities and progression to death. CONCLUSIONS: There must be continued vigilance for the risks of infection in pregnant women with medical comorbidities. Improved adherence to national guidelines, alongside prompt recognition and treatment with antibiotics, may reduce the burden from sepsis-related maternal deaths. TWEETABLE ABSTRACT: Medical comorbidities, multiparity and antibiotic delays increase the risk of death from maternal sepsis.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1506 - 1515


Maternal deaths, maternal sepsis, pregnancy, septic shock, severe acute maternal morbidity, severe sepsis, Anemia, Anti-Bacterial Agents, Case-Control Studies, Comorbidity, Disease Progression, Female, Humans, Immunocompromised Host, Multivariate Analysis, Parity, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Complications, Hematologic, Pregnancy Complications, Infectious, Risk Factors, Sepsis, Time-to-Treatment, Unemployment, United Kingdom