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A Snapshot of Maternal Mortality

1. Everyday 800 women die from complications of childbirth

About 300,000 women died in 2015 from the complications of pregnancy and

childbirth. This is the second leading cause of death in developing countries,

after HIV/AIDS, among women of reproductive age.

2. Women die in pregnancy and childbirth for 5 main reasons

These are... severe bleeding, infections, unsafe abortion, hypertensive

disorders (pre-eclampsia and eclampsia), and medical complications like

cardiac disease, diabetes, or HIV/AIDS complicating or complicated by


3. Maternal health mirrors the gap between the rich and the poor

Less than 1% of maternal deaths occur in high-income countries. The

maternal mortality ratio in developing countries is 239 per 100 000 births

versus 12 per 100 000 in developed countries. Also, maternal mortality is

higher in rural areas and among poorer and less educated communities.

Approximately 830 women die every day, with roughly 550 of these women living in sub-Saharan Africa and 180 in Southern Asia, compared to 8 in high-income countries.

4. Black and Asian women have a higher risk of dying in pregnancy


White women - 8/100,000

Asian women - 15/100,000

Black women - 40/100,000

Compared with white European women, the odds of severe maternal morbidity were 83% higher among black African women, 80% higher among black Caribbean, 74% higher in Bangladeshi, 56% higher in other non-whites (non-Asian), and 43% higher among Pakistani women. 

In the US, black women have been found to be 3-4 times more likely to die

from pregnancy-related complications such as preeclampsia, eclampsia, abruptio

placentae, placenta previa, and postpartum haemorrhage, than their white

counterparts with the same conditions. These disparities transcend social class,

education, and income level.

5. Reducing the maternal mortality ratio has been slow

Since 1990 the global maternal mortality ratio has declined by only 2.3% annually instead of the 5.5% needed to achieve MDG 5a. However, in some countries, accelerated rates of decline were observed after 2000. This means that with continued efforts, it is possible to end preventable maternal mortality and reach the new SDG. SDG 3 strives to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100 000 live births by 2030, leaving no country with a maternal mortality rate that reaches twice the global average.

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