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Mothers, Newborns at High Risk in Developing World
Date:1/15/2009

UNICEF report finds 500,000 new mothers dying each year

THURSDAY, Jan. 15 (HealthDay News) -- A pregnant woman living in one of the world's poorest countries is 300 times more likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth than women living in more affluent nations, a UNICEF annual report released Thursday shows.

The State of the World's Children report also estimates that infants born in developing nations have a 14-fold higher chance of dying during their first month of life compared to newborns in richer countries.

The health of infants is closely tied to that of their mothers, UNICEF noted.

"To save children's lives, we need to address the health of their mothers -- it's that simple. There is an inextricable link between maternal and infant survival," Caryl Stern, president and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, said in a UNICEF news release. "With all of the medical technology women have access to here in the U.S., it is easy to take maternal and prenatal care for granted, but every year, the number of maternal deaths worldwide exceeds 500,000, including about 70,000 girls and young women aged 15 to 19."

Some other statistics from the report:

  • Women in the developing world face a one in 76 lifetime risk of maternal death, compared to a risk of just one in 8,000 for women living in the developed world. More than 99 percent of deaths linked to pregnancy and its complications worldwide occur in developing countries.
  • For every woman who dies from pregnancy-linked complications, another 20 fall victim to related illnesses or injury, with consequences that can linger for years.
  • The countries with the highest risks for maternal deaths are: Niger, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Chad, Angola, Liberia, Somalia, Republic of Congo, Guinea-Bissau and Mali. In Niger, a woman faces a one-in-seven chance of maternal death.

There was good news in the report, howeve
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