Obstetric sepsis remains a leading cause of maternal mortality in the United States and throughout the world. Maternal deaths due to sepsis have been found to be largely preventable with timely recognition, appropriate treatment, and escalation of care. Sepsis disproportionately affects those from underrepresented minority groups. National rates of obstetric sepsis are 2.4 times higher for Black patients, 1.5 times higher for Asian/Pacific Islander patients, and 1.8 times higher for Native American patients compared with White patients. These differences directly reflect the effects of racism on maternal morbidity and mortality. (source)
The World Health Organization definition for maternal sepsis is a life-threatening condition defined as organ dysfunction resulting from infection during pregnancy, childbirth, post-abortion, or the postpartum period (up to 42 days). Such conditions include infections that are related to delivery and other types of infections that occur during pregnancy or the postpartum period.