Italian officials have launched an inquiry after five pregnant women died within the week after Christmas from unknown causes.
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Four investigative teams have been sent to hospitals to look into a string of deaths of heavily pregnant women in the north of the country, which has one of the lowest levels of maternal deaths in the world, the Guardian reported.
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On Christmas Day, Anna Massignan, 34, died during an emergency caesarean section at a hospital in the Verona area. A day later, 39-year-old Angela Nesta suffered a deadly heart attack after giving birth to a stillborn baby in Turin.
Days later, travel blogger Marta Lazzarin, 35, at seven months pregnany, was hospitalized in Bassano del Grappa, north-east of Vicenza, with fever and abdominal pain, after losing her baby, and also died of a heart attack.
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The most recent case was of 30-year-old Giovanna Lazzari, who died on New Year’s Eve during an emergency caesarean section at eight months.
“Giovanna sent me an SMS in the middle of the night, telling me she was in serious pain and that she wasn’t receiving attention from the doctors,” her husband, Roberto Coppini, told Ansa news agency.
The fifth case is not being investigated. An unnamed 23-year-old woman at full term died December 29th at her home in Foggia, in southern Italy, of an unknown cause. Doctors were able to save her baby by doing a postmortem caesarean.
Italian health minister Beatrice Lorenzin has ordered to probe into the four cases in the northern regions. Health agencies, police and local authorities are obligated to report directly to the ministry in Rome.
“[The task force] must ascertain if organizational faults contributed to the cause of deaths and if all the procedures to guarantee the quality and safety of care were respected,” the health ministry said in a statement.
Italy is regarded as one of the safest for childbirth globally. According to World Bank data, 4 pregnancy-related deaths per 100,000 live births annually were on the record over the last five years, compared to 9 in the UK and 14 in the US.
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