Maternal Mortality

Childbirth has always been a time of increased risk for women, and is still a dangerous undertaking in very poor countries. It is estimated that over 500,000 women die each year from childbirth-related causes, about one each minute. The definition and causes, distribution, historical perspective, and the global response to maternal mortality are all examined.

Definitions, Causes, and Distribution

Maternal mortality is death while pregnant or within 42 days of the end of pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management, but not from accidental or incidental causes. Up to 15 percent of all births are complicated by an unpredictable, potentially fatal, but usually treatable condition. If untreated, mothers, and often their babies, die.

The first 48 hours after delivery (or termination) ...

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