Maternal Deaths Plunged Over Two Decades, To About 287,000, in 2010

May 17, 2012 • Reproductive Health, Daily Email Recap

Here is a story printed in the New York Times on May 16th, 2012, presenting on what is being reported as a significant drop in maternal deaths over the past twenty years (though apparently still averaging roughly 800 per day). See:

Maternal Deaths Plunged Over Two Decades, To About 287,000, in 2010

The number of women dying from pregnancy and childbirth has dropped sharply in the last two decades, according to a report by a consortium of United Nations agencies set to be released on Wednesday.

Maternal deaths fell to about 287,000 in 2010, the report said. The decline is attributable to increases in contraception and in antiretroviral drugs for mothers with AIDS, and to greater numbers of births attended by nurses, doctors or midwives with medical training.

The agencies said the deaths had fallen by 47 percent from the United Nations’ 1990 estimate of 543,000, but the organization has been revising its historical estimates in response to skeptical research by a rival group of epidemiologists at the University of Washington.

Two years ago, that group, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which was founded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as a sort of check on the World Health Organization, contradicted a long-held United Nations finding that maternal deaths had remained stubbornly above 500,000 a year.

In a widely publicized study in the journal The Lancet in April 2010, the institute estimated that 343,000 maternal deaths took place in 2008. It used three times as much data from census and death records, scientific studies and other sources as previous United Nations reports had.

In response, five months later, the United Nations said it had “revised and improved” its own statistics and concluded that there were 358,000 deaths in 2008.

To read the full story, please click here:

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