Levels and Causes of Maternal Mortality and Morbidity

Authors: Veronique Filippi, Doris Chou, Carine Ronsmans, Wendy Graham, Lale Say


A summary of available data on the levels and trends of maternal mortality and morbidity and their main determinants is presented in this chapter. Mathematical modeling indicates (1) maternal mortality continues to decline in most countries, (2) women face the highest risk of death in the regions of Oceania and Sub-Saharan Africa, and (3) deaths due to direct causes—such as hemorrhage and hypertension—represent the main causes in Latin America and the Caribbean and in Sub-Saharan Africa. The proportion of hemorrhage and hypertension deaths found globally remains high despite established interventions to prevent and treat direct causes of maternal death, such as active management of the third stage of labor. The proportion of maternal deaths due to indirect causes continues to increase, and the perceived and technical quality of health care services provided becomes more crucial in the fight against maternal mortality and morbidity, given their consequences for both demand for, and supply of, services.




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