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Introduction: Obstetric patients represent a significant fraction of admissions to intensive care units and consist of a challenge to the team. Objective: To analyze the main causes of maternal death and hospitalization of women of childbearing age occurring in intensive care units of hospitals in a city in Northwestern Paraná, Southern Brazil. Methods: Exploratory, descriptive and retrospective study, conducted with women of childbearing age (10–49 years) admitted in three intensive care units existing in a city of Northwest Paraná, for obstetric and non-obstetric causes, from January 2005 to December 2009. Results: There were 775 admissions of women of childbearing age, with a mean age of 33.7±10.3 years; the mean duration of hospitalization was 5.0±8.4 days. Most of the women were from the municipality (67.2%), with low education level (primary level, 68.2%). Among the obstetric causes of hospitalization, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia constituted the main cause (71.3%); pyelonephritis stood out other conditions during pregnancy (53%). There was no statistical association between hospital admissions for obstetric causes in intensive care unit and death. Conclusion: Non-obstetric causes accounted for the majority of hospitalizations of women of childbearing age in the intensive care unit of this municipality during the study period; among obstetric causes, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia were the main causes.
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