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11 June 2009

Childbirth risky for Jehovah's witnesses

Pregnant Jehovah's witnesses are six times more likely to die during childbirth than other women, mainly due to an increased risk for severe bleeding, Dutch researchers said.

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Pregnant Jehovah's witnesses are six times more likely to die during childbirth than other women, mainly due to an increased risk for severe bleeding, Dutch researchers said recently.

Jehovah's witnesses refuse blood transfusions for religious reasons, and knowing the risks more precisely can help health workers better prepare for dealing with people who decline lifesaving measures, said Jos Van Roosmalen of the Netherlands Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, who led the study. "It is important that people know what is happening and to talk about the facts," Roosmalen said in a statement.

The researchers reviewed all maternal deaths in the Netherlands between 1983 and 2006, and every recorded case of serious complications during pregnancy between 2004 and 2006.

They found that 20% of the women who died were Jehovah's witnesses, but only an estimated 29 500 members of the group live in the country of more than 16 million people.

Most of the deaths were from severe haemorrhaging. Women who refused red blood cell transfusions were the most likely to die.

Jehovah's witnesses were also three times more likely to suffer serious complications during childbirth, the researchers wrote in The British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. – (Reuters Health, June 2009)

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