Investigation launched in Italy after five pregnant women die in a week

All of the deaths occurred between Christmas and the New Year

Doug Bolton
Monday 04 January 2016 23:56
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The deaths occurred in the northern part of Italy
The deaths occurred in the northern part of Italy

A government investigation has been launched in Italy after five heavily pregnant women died in a single week, shocking a nation which has one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world.

Four hospitals in northern Italy are currently under investigation by the health ministry after five women died between Christmas and the New Year, all of whom were between seven and nine months pregnant.

As the Guardian reports, Giovanna Lazzari, 30, is the latest victim, dying during an emergency caesarean at a Brescia hospital after she was admitted two days previously claiming to be suffering from a fever.

Her partner Roberto Coppini said that she texted him the night before she died to say she was having serious pains, but was not getting proper attention from doctors.

According to Italy's Ansa news agency, initial reports said she died of internal bleeding after her placenta detatched from her uterus, a common cause of maternal death that can be helped with skilled and early medical care.

According to data from the World Bank, Italy has the joint second lowest maternal mortality rates in the world.

In 2015 and in the four previous years, only four deaths a year were recorded per 100,000 live births - more than half the amount than in the UK, where there were 9 deaths per 100,000 births in 2015, 2015 and 2013, falling from 10 in 2011 and 2012.

Health minister Beatrice Lorenzin sent experts to establish the causes of the womens' deaths. A report on the issue was due on Monday.

There has been speculation that the deaths could have been linked to lower hospital staffing over the festive period, but Lorenzin said an investigation was needed.

"We need to investigate case by case, make sure no mistakes were made during hospital admittance procedures and prior," she said.

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