Sudden and Unexpected Deaths among Women of Reproductive age – Qualitative Analysis of Risk Factors HC01-HC05
Dr. Hemanta Panigrahi,
Assistant Professor, Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, M.K.C.G Medical College,
Berhampur-760004, Odisha, India.
Introduction: Unnatural deaths in women of reproductive age (range 12-49 years) have a serious psychological and social impact on the family and community. Women of reproductive age comprise a vulnerable section of the society as they are confronted with menstrual and pregnancy related stress factors in addition to the stressors prevalent in the general population.
Aim: To analyse the socio-epidemiological and medico-legal factors involved in unnatural deaths among women of reproductive age.
Materials and Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted on 1379 unnatural deaths of women of reproductive age subjected to medico-legal autopsy during a period of five years. Information was based on documents submitted by police at the time of autopsy and postmortem reports. Various demographic and medico-legal parameters were studied in detail.
Results: Unnatural deaths among women of reproductive age were 1415 (25.2%) cases of total autopsy. Road traffic accidents with 684 (49.6%) cases followed by poisoning in 157 (11.3%), hanging in 133 (9.6%), burn in 114 (8.2%) and railway injuries in 108 (7.8%) cases were the leading causes of death. Nature of death was accidental in 877 (63.6%) cases followed by suicide in 434 (31.5%) cases and homicide in 68 (4.9%) cases. Dowry related deaths accounted for 247 (22.7%) deaths. Poisoning in 152 (35%) cases followed by hanging in 133 (30.6%) and burn in 71 (16.4%) cases respectively were the most common methods of suicide. Strangulation or smothering with 33 (48.5%) cases was preferred method of homicide. Road traffic and railway injuries in 727 (82.8%) cases constituted the bulk of accidental deaths. Married women with 1087 (78.9%) cases and housewives in 917 (66.5%) cases from combined families in 829 (60.1%) cases from rural background in 875 (63.5%) cases with low socioeconomic in 912 (66.1%) cases and poor education in 739 (53.6%) cases were the most vulnerable victims.
Conclusion: There is a strong association of various socio-epidemiological and medico-legal factors with respect to unnatural deaths among women of reproductive age group. To bring down the incidences of such deaths, multipronged preventive measures have been suggested.