Trends in Maternal Mortality has reported a 34% reduction in pregnancy deaths between 1990 and 2008. The report was published by the World Health Organization (WHO). Despite the drop in pregnancy deaths, at least 1000 women still die each day during pregnancy.

About 550,000 women died during pregnancy in 1990. Deaths were attributed to complications during pregnancy or birth. By 2008, that number had dropped to just more than 350,000. Behind the study is the Millenium Development Goal (MGD5). According to the goal, mortality during pregnancy would have to decrease by 75% between 1990 and 2015. At the current rate, that goal will not be met as 1000 women still die a pregnancy-related death every day.

The top causes of pregnancy-related death include severe bleeding, infection, and abortion. Women residing in a developing country is nearly 40 times more likely to die during pregnancy or birth. Industrialized nations had the lowest rates of death.

According to the director of the United Nations Population Fund, “Every birth should be safe and every pregnancy wanted. The lack of maternal health care violates women’s rights to life, health, equality, and non-discrimination.” All those involved believe the MGD5 goals can be realized if developing nations focus more on prenatal health care and preventative health care.

The MGD5 report reveals 10 out of the 87 countries studied reported a 5.5% decrease in pregnancy mortality rate. This puts these countries on track to meet reduction goals by 2015. Sub-Saharan African accounted for the highest percentage of deaths in 2008 at 57%.

Source: World Health Organization, UNICEF, UNFPA, The World Bank. 2010.