The aim of this study was to investigate social disparities in childbirth-related mortality in women (CRM) in Italy during 1972-2013, a period characterised by important changes in the organisation of healthcare services. The relationship between education and CRM was assessed using a Poisson regression model adjusted for age, area of birth and year of delivery. The risk of dying from childbirth related causes was more than double for less educated women when compared to women with better education (RR 2.3; 95% CI 1.1-3.9). CMR was almost 2.5 times higher in 1971-1979 than in the universalistic coverage period (1980-2013): RR 2.6, 95% CI 1.4-4.6. CMR in Turin has decreased in the last 40 years and this success is probably the result of the development of our public health system and of specific health facilities for pregnant women but free access to maternal care alone is not sufficient to erase inequalities. IMPACT STATEMENT What do we already know? Mother mortality due to childbirth-related causes has significantly decreased in the last 40 years and the development of the public health system is likely to have contributed to this success. What do the results of this study add? This study shows that, although there has been good progress in pregnancy and partum assistance, inequalities in the incidence of mortality from childbirth-related causes still exists even in a high-income country such as Italy. What are the implications of these findings for clinical practice and/or further research? The results are useful both for clinicians and for policy-makers as it suggests that the assessment of socioeconomic factors should be taken into account by clinicians along with other risk factors. Furthermore, community interventions targeted at more vulnerable women should be implemented to improve the use of healthcare and pre-partum facilities.
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