BACKGROUND: To identify risk factors associated with a composite adverse maternal outcomes in women undergoing intrapartum cesarean birth. METHODS: We used the facility-based, multi-country, cross-sectional WHO Global Survey of Maternal and Perinatal Health (2004-2008) to examine associations between woman-, labor/obstetric-, and facility-level characteristics and a composite adverse maternal outcome of postpartum morbidity and mortality. This analysis was performed among women who underwent intrapartum cesarean birth during the course of labor. RESULTS: We analyzed outcomes of 29,516 women from low- and middle-income countries who underwent intrapartum cesarean birth between the gestational ages of 24 and 43 weeks, 3.5% (1040) of whom experienced the composite adverse maternal outcome. In adjusted analyses, factors associated with a decreased risk of the adverse maternal outcome associated with intrapartum cesarean birth included having four or more antenatal visits (AOR 0.60; 95% CI: 0.43-0.84; p = 0.003), delivering in a medium- or high-human development index country (vs. low-human development index country: AOR 0.07; 95% CI: 0.01-0.85 and AOR 0.02; 95% CI: 0.001-0.39, respectively; p = 0.03), and malpresentation (vs. cephalic: breech AOR 0.52; CI: 0.31-0.87; p = 0.04). Women who were medically high risk (vs. not medically high risk: AOR 1.81; CI: 1.30-2.51, p < 0.0004), had less education (0-6 years) (vs. 13+ years; AOR 1.64; CI: 1.03-2.63; p = 0.01), were obstetrically high risk (vs. not high risk; AOR 3.67; CI: 2.58-5.23; p < 0.0001), or had a maternal or obstetric indication (vs. elective: AOR 4.74; CI: 2.36-9.50; p < 0.0001) had increased odds of the adverse outcome. CONCLUSION: We found reduced adverse maternal outcomes of intrapartum cesarean birth in women with >/= 4 antenatal visits, those who delivered in a medium or high human development index country, and those with malpresenting fetuses. Maternal adverse outcomes associated with intrapartum cesarean birth were medically and obstetrically high risk women, those with less education, and those with a maternal or obstetric indication for intrapartum cesarean birth.
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