Menu
Scientific news and articles
Male pipefish decide who survives
Saturn's rings a chaotic clutter
Researchers develop desal on a chip
Final missing piece of insulin lock found
Volcano helped dinosaurs gain upper hand
Bouncing current could speed up charge
Bleaching leaves Lord Howe reef 'on knife edge'
Floor price for booze good as taxes, study
Concerns over varroa mite resistance
Microbes breathe life into oxygen theory
Pre-history rewritten as new human discovered
Dung beetle claims strongest insect title
Scientists unearth Australian tyrannosaur
Splitting cyclone reveals Neptune's nature
Junk food can become addictive: study
Bumblebees have superfast colour vision
Black holes may be 'missing dark matter'
Magnets can manipulate morality: study
Sun helps bats find home in the dark
LHC to begin 'Big Bang' project
Trial of bionic eye within three years
Easter eggs may be good for your heart
Mega-flood triggered European ice age
Finch genome music to researcher's ears
Study finds maternal deaths falling
Deaths of women in and around childbirth have gone down by an average of 35% globally, according to a new study, but are surprisingly high in the United States, Canada and Norway.

The researchers say their findings show it is possible to save women's lives if countries want to and say their analysis should point to ways to do so.

According to the researchers, the AIDS pandemic alone killed more than 61,000 women in and around the time of childbirth in 2008, most of them in Africa.

"These findings are very encouraging and quite surprising. There are still too many mothers dying worldwide, but now we have a greater reason for optimism than has generally been perceived," says Dr Christopher Murray of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, who led the study.

The findings contradict work done by the World Health Organization, which reported last May that mothers and newborns are no more likely to survive now than 20 years ago.

Murray and colleagues took every bit of data they could find on deaths of women from records in 181 countries and plugged this information into a computer model.

"We estimated that there were 342,900 deaths worldwide in 2008, down from 526,300 in 1980," they wrote in their report, published in the Lancet medical journal.

They found the number of women dying from pregnancy-related causes has dropped by more than 35% globally in the past 30 years.
'Surprising results'

"One of the most surprising results is the apparent rise in the maternal mortality rate in the USA, Canada, and Norway," they add. But it can partly be because US death certificates recently started asking about pregnancy, they added.

But this does not explain why US maternal deaths are double the rates in Britain, triple the rates in Australia and four times the rate in Italy, they say.

In the United States the rate rose from 12 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1980 to 17 in 2008. In Canada, the rate hovered between 6 and 7 for the whole time and Norway's rose from 7 per 100,000 in 1980 to 8 per 100,000 in 2008.

The United States is currently reforming its healthcare system, where more is spent per capita than in comparable developed countries but with poorer results, as demonstrated by maternal and newborn death rates and high rates of diabetes and heart disease.
Big achievers

China, Egypt, Ecuador and Bolivia made some of the most progress in lowering maternal death rates, Murray's team found.

In China, the rate fell from 165 per 100,000 to 40 per 100,000.

"Progress overall would have been greater if the HIV epidemic had not contributed to substantial increases in maternal mortality in eastern and southern Africa," they add.

Nearly one out of every five maternal deaths or a total of 61,400 in 2008, were associated with AIDS infections.

About 80% of all deaths of pregnant women or new mothers were in 21 countries, with half of all such deaths in just six countries - India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

"Finding out why a country such as Egypt has had such enormous success in driving down the number of women dying from pregnancy-related causes could enable us to export that success to countries that have been lagging behind," says Murray.

Print
New Zealand's GM livestock given reprieve
Nano diamonds to become a doctor's best friend
Ocean saltiness reaching new limits
Volcanic ash unlikely to cool planet
Silk forms 'intimate' brain connection
New drug improves hepatitis C outcome
Microbial life discovered in asphalt lake
Green tea may strengthen your teeth
Head-ramming dino had 'gears' in skull
Clever crows show innovative behaviour
Research casts doubt on brain training
Multiple unknowns cloud volcano's impact
Staying fit helps men 'do it longer'
Copenhagen sets Earth for more warming
Solar spacecraft begins study of our Sun
Mixed messages on gene patenting
Gene study finds multiple species of orca
Dreaming boosts learning and creativity
Scientists measure massive ocean current
Genes influence smoking addiction: study
Nanowires create volts of electricity
Fisheries urged to diversify their 'take'
Chimps confront death in human-like ways
Chile to host world's biggest telescope
Trapping light to improve solar cells
Experts debate use of HPV test
Japan to launch 'space yacht'
Sea ice loss key to Arctic warming, study
Menu
Australian lasers to track orbiting junk
Thawing nitrous oxide overlooked: study
'Sound bullets' could blast cancer
Lasers could spark clean nuclear power
Seaweed slows black sea snakes down
Asteroid impacts cause crustal crisis: study
Flu jab link to increased H1N1 risk: study
Intestinal germ helps sushi digestion
Researcher closes in on freezing conundrum
Test identifies smokers at highest risk
New species of human found in 'death trap'
'Planet of love' still hot and active
Stress takes its toll on tiny lizard
Scientists record world's tiniest nudge
Cell signals shed light on breast cancer
Parasites behind seasonal allergies
Study finds maternal deaths falling
Pluto's family set to grow tenfold
Diet cuts Alzheimer's risk: study
Whales get physical when seas get rough
'Tweets' could warn of future epidemics
Quolls force-fed toads in survival fight
Researchers question use of silver dressings
Scientists create truly random numbers