Childbirth Anesthesia Deaths on the Decline

Deaths under general anesthetics during childbirth decreasing

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Deaths from general anesthesia during childbirth have decreased in the past two decades, a decline scientists attribute to better monitoring and breathing devices.

Anesthesia related deaths during childbirth have significantly declined in the past 20 years due to advances in medical techniques. More focus has been given to reduce complications of general anesthesia.

Joy Hawkins, MD, of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, found that there were three deaths per million live births between 1979 and 1990 and about one death per million live births between 1991 and 2002.

However, while the number of deaths under general anesthesia have gone down, women dying under regional anesthetic from administered spinal and epidural injections account for 3.8 out of every million.

A majority of deaths from general anesthesia have occurred during C-sections, in which incisions are made through the mother's abdomen and uterus to give birth. However, the number of deaths has dropped due to improved monitoring systems and breathing devices.

Scientists still do not understand the increase in deaths due to regional anesthetic but note that the recent statistics show that risk of death in either general or regional anesthetic is incredibly low.

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Review Date: 
January 6, 2011
Last Updated:
January 7, 2011