Factors Influencing Maternal Mortality
Maternal mortality is
directly related to poverty. In fact, death from pregnancy or
childbirth rarely occurs in the developed world. All the risk factors
are related to a women’s economic situation.
- The more
pregnancies a women has, the greater her chances of dying. The poorer
and less educated a woman is, the more likely she is to have high fertility.
This is seen most dramatically in Sub Saharan Africa where rates of
births per women and maternal deaths are the highest in the world.
Approximately ten countries in that region have rates of more than six
births per woman. This occurs nowhere else on the planet; only a few
countries outside Sub Saharan Africa have more than four births per
woman. Many developed countries have less than two.
- Teen pregnancy
is a major risk factor for maternal mortality – younger mothers are
more likely to experience complications and to die from them. Although
teen pregnancy rates have been falling globally, they remain high in
the developing world. In fact, 90% of all teen mothers live in poor
- Lack of prenatal health care
is another factor. This has been improving, even in the developing
world, with 74% of women in poor countries receiving one prenatal visit
per pregnancy, up from 54% in 1990. However, the World Health
Organization recommends a minimum of four visits per pregnancy for
optimal care. Less than 45% of women in Sub Saharan Africa receive
four visits. Complications at birth are especially deadly when these
births are not attended by physicians, nurses, or midwives. This is
the case mostly in Haiti, Sub Saharan Africa, and South and Central
Asia – Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan – where only 40-47%
of births are attended by medical personnel.
Next: Women and Health: Family Planning