Reliable data on mortality and morbidity among women of reproductive age group are scarce in India. The present study is the Maharashtra component of a large multicentric task force study on the cause of death by verbal autopsy conducted in five States of India. The data pertaining to deaths among reproductive age group women are presented along with the factors contributing to these deaths. & Methods: House-to-house surveys of a representative population from rural and urban areas in six districts of Maharashtra were undertaken by probability of proportion to size (PPS) sampling. Information on death was obtained from the relatives of the deceased and cause of death was assigned using the standardized algorithm prepared. International Classification of Diseases - ICD- 10 was used to code the assigned cause of death. & Results: A total of 103 deaths in reproductive age group women were investigated, of which 7 (5.6%) were maternal while 96 (93.2%) were due to non maternal causes. Six out of seven maternal deaths were in rural area. Among the non maternal deaths, 46.8 per cent women had symptoms suggestive of anaemia and the leading cause of death was infectious and parasitic diseases (25%), tuberculosis being the top killer in this group. This was followed by injury and poisoning (20.8%), suicides being the leading cause in this category. Among non-communicable diseases, cancers contributed to 10.6 per cent deaths among which cancer esophagus and cancer cervix took a major toll. & Interpretation & conclusion: Communicable diseases, injury and poisoning and cancers are the major killers among reproductive age group women. Several factors responsible for accidents and suicides also contributed substantially to the mortality load among these women. Majority of the maternal deaths were seen in rural areas indicating the need to strengthen the maternal health care.
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