January 16, 2009

Childbirth more deadly in poor countries

Women in least developed nations are 300 times more likely to die in childbirth or from pregnancy-related complications, UNICEF officials said in South Africa.

The State of the World's Children report said a woman living in a developing country has a 1 in 76 lifetime risk of maternal death, compared with a probability of 1 in 8,000 for women in developed countries. A child born in a developing country is almost 14 times more likely to die during the first month of life than a child born in a developed one.

Every year, more than half a million women die as a result of pregnancy or childbirth complications, including about 70,000 girls and young women aged 15 to 19, Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF executive director, said Thursday in South Africa. Since 1990, complications related to pregnancy and childbirth have killed an estimated 10 million women.

The 10 countries with the highest lifetime risk of maternal death are Niger, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Chad, Angola, Liberia, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea-Bissau and Mali.