Introduction Since the establishment of policies of humanisation of delivery and to obtain more accurate data on causes of maternal deaths, maternal mortality in Brazil declined. Pregnant women have been given priority in health services. As a result, we started to notice a large number of deaths of women of childbearing age, not pregnant, who now have more difficulty getting care in health services.
Objectives To identify the causes of death in women of childbearing age (10 to 49 years), to prevent them in the Public Health Unit.
Methods Time series from 2005 to 2009 that evaluated the death certificates of women of childbearing age in the region studied. After checking the main causes of death was held discussion with staff of the Unit on shares, which were immediately put into practice (task force for preventive gynaecological examinations, diagnosis of sexually transmitted diseases, and chronic degenerative diseases).
Results There were 386 deaths of women of childbearing age in the period studied. As causes, undetermined and without care (19.2%), heart disease 10.9%, 10.7% violent death, cerebrovascular events 6.7%, lung diseases (8.2%), AIDS 3.6%, maternal causes accounted for 2.07% and 1.55% neoplasms. The rate of death between 30 and 49 years rose from 79% in 2005 to 81% in 2009.
Conclusions The most common causes of death were undetermined causes, cardiovascular events and violent death. It appears that prevention and health promotion carried out in health units could prevent such events.