Homicide: A Top Cause of Death Among Pregnant Women

Jessie Davis' death follows disturbing data pattern for pregnant women.

ByABC News
February 10, 2009, 8:26 PM

June 24, 2007 — -- The hopes of thousands of volunteer searchers were dashed on Saturday when the body of Jessie Davis, the missing pregnant woman from Canton, Ohio, was found.

Davis's boyfriend, Bobby Cutts Jr., will be arraigned Monday on two counts of murder one for Davis and one for her unborn daughter, who had been due next month.

Cutts' former classmate, Myisha Ferrell, has also been arrested on obstruction of justice charges related to the murder.

The death of Jessie Davis is not unique. Homicide is a leading cause of death among pregnant women.

Jacqueline Campbell, a professor of nursing at the Johns Hopkins University, says it's a fact that health professionals are just coming to grips with.

"We used to be focused on other causes of maternal mortality, and now we realize that we have to pay attention to homicide, as it emerges as one of the biggest problems during pregnancy and immediately afterwards," she said.

A 2005 study by the American Journal of Public Health reported that 31 percent of all pregnancy deaths between 1991 and 1999 were the result of homicide. Only pregnancy-related complications ranked higher as a cause of death.

According to the study, the top cause of injury-related death among non-pregnant women, aged 15 to 44, was traffic accidents, followed by suicide, and then homicide.

"It is starting to look like it happens all too often," said Campbell, "perhaps because we are having more attention to it in the media. It is very difficult to count this, exactly."

In Canton, Ohio, neighbors have turned Davis's doorstep into a makeshift memorial, covered with flowers.