Homicide was a leading cause of maternal deaths in Louisiana during 2016 and 2017, exceeding any single pregnancy-associated cause, according to a study reported this week in JAMA Pediatrics. The risk of homicide death was twice as high for women and girls who were pregnant or postpartum than for those who were not, with women and girls ages 10 to 29 at highest risk. “Health care professionals’ encounters with women and girls during pregnancy and the postpartum period – times when they are most likely to seek health care services – represent critical windows of opportunity for violence prevention services and interventions targeting them, their partners, or their families,” the authors said. They also said state maternal mortality review committees “should begin to identify and address homicide with the same imperative and rigor given to obstetrically caused deaths, despite the associated challenges in reviewing these cases.” The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, part of the National Institutes of Health, funded the study.

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