Journal of Public Health Policy

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 180–216 | Cite as

Homicide in pregnant and postpartum women worldwide: a review of the literature

  • Charlotte CliffeEmail author
  • Maddalena Miele
  • Steven Reid
Review Article


We review the international literature on a neglected aspect of maternal mortality: maternal homicide. Reported rates range from 0.97 to 10.6 per 100,000 live births. Women murdered in the perinatal period constituted a highly vulnerable group: they were younger, more likely to be from minority ethnic groups, and unmarried. Domestic violence was a significant risk factor for attempted and completed homicide. Compared to other countries, pregnancy-associated homicide rates were highest in the US. It is unclear how much of the difference to attribute to better case identification or to actual risk. Our review demonstrates pregnancy-associated homicide is an important contributor to maternal mortality, with rates comparable to suicide. Central to any prevention strategy will be identification of those at risk. The predictions are very weak because definitions, data collection, and analysis are so variable from study to study. Our findings reinforce the importance of screening for current and previous domestic violence.


Maternal Perinatal Homicide Murder Domestic violence Abuse 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charlotte Cliffe
    • 1
    Email author
  • Maddalena Miele
    • 2
  • Steven Reid
    • 2
  1. 1.Camden and Islington NHS TrustLondonUK
  2. 2.CNWL NHS TrustSt Mary’s Hospital, LondonLondonUK

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