The World Health Organization (WHO) has updated its fact sheet on Maternal Mortality. It simultaneously issued a press release on maternal deaths between 1990 and 2015. The basis of the release is the document ‘Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2015 – Estimates by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank Group and the United Nations Population Division’. The analyses have been simultaneously published in The Lancet.
Background Information (Definitions):
Maternal Death: Death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management, but not from accidental or incidental causes.
Pregnancy-Related Death: Death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the cause of death.
Late Maternal Death: Death of a woman from direct or indirect obstetric causes, more than 42 days, but less than 1 year, after termination of pregnancy.
Maternal Mortality Ratio: Number of maternal deaths per 100000 live births.
Maternal Mortality Rate: The ratio of maternal deaths to the women-years of exposure for women aged 15–49 years.
Proportion of Maternal Deaths: Proportion of maternal deaths among deaths of women of reproductive age.
Globally, despite a nearly 44% (43.9%) reduction in Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) [from 385/100 000 live births (1990) to 216/ 100 000 live births (2015)] between 1990 and 2015, presently about 830 women die each day due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth.
99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries- more than 50% in sub-Saharan Africa, and nearly 1/3rd in South Asia.
Over 50% of all maternal deaths occur in countries experiencing conflict and crisis.
In 2015, MMR varies from 239 maternal deaths/ 100 000 live births in developing countries, to 12 maternal deaths/ 100 000 live births in developed countries.
The risk of maternal mortality is highest for adolescent girls below 15 years age.
Complications in pregnancy and childbirth is a leading cause of death among adolescent girls in developing countries.
The probability that a 15 year old woman will eventually die from a maternal cause ranges from
- Developed countries: 1 in 4900; and
- Developing countries: 1 in 180 to
- Fragile States: 1 in 54
Nearly 75% of all maternal deaths are due to:
- Severe bleeding (mostly bleeding after childbirth [post-partum haemorrhage])
- Infections (usually after childbirth)
- High blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia and eclampsia)
- Complications from delivery
- Unsafe abortion
Most maternal deaths are preventable, as the complications and how to prevent and manage them are known:
- Severe bleeding: Injecting Oxytocin immediately after birth reduces the chances of severe bleeding.
- Infection after childbirth: Practicing good hygiene and early diagnosis and prompt treatment of infection are key.
- Pre-eclampsia: Detection and management of raised blood pressure during pregnancy and administration of magnesium sulfate can reduce the risk of eclampsia and other life-threatening complications.
Skilled care before, during and after childbirth can save the lives of women and newborn babies. However, only 51% of women from low-income countries benefit from skilled care during childbirth; and only 40% of all pregnant women in these countries receive 4 antenatal care visits.
Link to the updated fact sheet:
Link to the article in The Lancet (PDF):
Click to access S0140673615008387.pdf
Link to Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2015 – Estimates by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank Group and the United Nations Population Division (Full document):
Link to Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2015 – Estimates by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank Group and the United Nations Population Division (Executive Summary):
Link to the press release by WHO on maternal mortality trends:
Link to the full infographic on maternal mortality (PDF):
Link to the infographic on maternal mortality Part 1 (PDF):
Link to the infographic on maternal mortality Part 2 (PDF):
Link to the infographic on maternal mortality Part 3 (PDF):
Link to the infographic on maternal mortality Part 4 (PDF):
Link to the infographic on maternal mortality Part 5 (PDF):