Death in ChildbirthWe’re constantly reporting about changes in pregnancy treatments and care that influence the outcomes of pregnancy and childbirth. However, often those reports are nothing but words on a page unless we can actually see the effects of these developments in real-life numbers. The United Nations recently reported a significant change in the number of women dying during pregnancy and childbirth – a nearly 50-percent reduction in the last 20 years.

The Exact Numbers from the United Nations
About twenty years ago, roughly 543,000 women died from complications during pregnancy or childbirth. That number dropped to 287,000 in 2010. That is a 50-percent decline, which is more than clinically significant – it is clinically amazing. The World Health Organization and other world-renowned health organizations offered virtual cheers for such fantastic progress, but experts and researchers say this is just the start and we are not in a place to stop the push just yet.

Experts need to continue with education and training in order to decrease the overall risk of pregnancy complications and childbirth for women. The report stated that some maternal death during pregnancy is associated with unsafe abortion. These abortions can be prevented if education about safe sex continues and women are given alternative options to abortion if they find they are unexpectedly pregnant. Reduction in unwanted pregnancy is likely associated with a percentage of the drop, according to researchers. More women are using contraception and thus, fewer unwanted pregnancies are occurring. With fewer unwanted pregnancies come fewer abortions, and the death rate during pregnancy drops. Other common causes of death include infections and bleeding during childbirth.

While the overall death rate during pregnancy and childbirth dropped significantly across the world, it was eastern Asia that saw the greatest individual decline, 70-percent. Most maternal deaths occur in developing countries with sub-Saharan Africa reporting the highest death rates.

Continuing education and the placement of skilled medical professionals with pregnant women will help maintain the decline and hopefully cause an even greater drop in pregnancy and childbirth death rates over the next 20 years.

Source: LA Times. May 16, 2012.