Third-world countries have a higher rate of maternal and infant mortality than the rest of the world, but researchers in Nigeria wanted to find out just how high maternal mortality rates were when births took place in a controlled setting like a medical institution. Researchers from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University College Hospital in Nigeria studied more than 9,000 deliveries in 21 medical institutions for the study.

Researchers pulled the childbirth and newborn records from the 21 medical institutions from a three-month period. In all, 9,208 infants were delivered. Reports showed about 21% of the women received no care before pregnancy. The remaining 79% attended at least one medical appointment. Normal deliveries without complication occurred in 81% of the cases. C-sections were completed in about 15% of deliveries - both elective and emergency. Seventy-nine women died during or after childbirth and 8,526 infants survived delivery. That means that 927 women die in Nigerian institutional births for every 100,000 infants born alive.

Conclusion: The maternal death rate in Nigeria, and other third-world countries, is higher than any other population, but the factors that affect maternal health are the same as in other parts of the world. Contributing factors to increased risk of maternal death include poor education and emergency C-section delivery.

Source: Fawole A, Shah A, Fabanwo A, Adegbola O, Adewunmi A, Eniayewun A, Dara K, El-Ladan A, Umezulike A, Alu F, Adebayo A, Obaitan F, Onala O, Usman Y, Sullayman A, Kailani S, Sa'id M. Predictors of maternal mortality in institutional deliveries in Nigeria. Afr Health Sci. 2012 Mar;12(1):32-40.