42 Pregnant Women Died in Two Months Due to Hepatitis

As maternal deaths rise in numbers, mostly due to Hepatitis E caused by infected water and food, BMC seeks data to ascertain source and fight the crisis 23 maternal deaths have been reported in private and public hospitals across the city in the month of June, and 19 in the month of July.

Of these, 11 were due to hepatitis E. Alarmed by this sum total of 42 maternal deaths, the BMC has sought to gather data on the possible causes.

Since the malady is part of a larger problem afflicting the entire state, the health department has also issued a government resolution asking all maternity homes, public and private, to report the number and cause of the deaths.

Maternal death refers to the death of a pregnant woman during pregnancy or in the six months following it.
However, the data compiled by the BMC’s family welfare department for June has opened a Pandora’s box, defying the civic body’s claim that most of the deceased women are from outside the city.

Of the 23, a total of 18 were residents of Mumbai. Only five were from surrounding districts like Thane, Raigad and Nashik. Of the 18, 8 died due to Hepatitis E.

A waterborne disease caused by the consumption of faecally contaminated drinking water, Hepatitis E has given rise to an epidemic of sorts. The ingestion of raw or uncooked food is usually the source of sporadic cases reported in affected areas.

Dr Ashok Anand, professor of gynaecology at JJ group of hospitals, said, “Hepatitis is endemic in the rainy season, and when pregnant women contract it, the attack is severe in nature which leads to hemorrhage. It may lead to massive bleeding which may result in death.”

Dr Asha Advani, BMC’s Family Welfare Unit, said, “Pregnant women must maintain basic hygiene and wash hands with soap. It is advisable for them not to eat food exposed to flies and consult a doctor if they have fever or discoloured urine.”

Toll up

Advani added, “In July, 19 maternal deaths have been reported, and 11 of the deceased are from outside the city. According to the reports we have received from hospitals across Mumbai, only four hepatitis E cases are reported of which three are from outside Mumbai.”

Dr Abha Nagral, consultant gastroenterologist and hepatologist, Bhatia and Jaslok Hospital said, “Even today we do not have a concrete answer as to why hepatitis E is more virulent among pregnant women.

Currently multi-central studies are going on national levels to understand the reason but maternal deaths owing to hepatitis E are more common in developing countries.

Nagral further added, “Hepatitis E is a virus that affects the liver and can cause jaundice. People tend to confuse the two.

Jaundice is a self-limiting illness and it is not advisable for pregnant women to restrict diet. But there is no doubt that pregnant women are the high risk group for this disease for which there is no vaccine commercially available yet.”

Dr Satish Kulkarni, consultant gastroenterologist and hepatologist, Indian Association for Study of Liver, said, “When a pregnant woman develops it in the last trimester, the chances of renal failure are high, leading to maternal and fetal mortality.

The mortality rate in pregnant women owing to this is 20 per cent. A new vaccine is being developed by WHO and undergoing field trial. If successful, it could be of great help. As there is no specific treatment available for hepatitis E, only symptomatic treatment is possible.”

Article Source: Midday, by?Priyanka Vora

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