Maternal death is the death of a woman in childbirth. It usually occurs during or after a live birth. The UN estimated a world-wide total of 529,000 maternal deaths in the year 2000 with less than one percent of deaths occurring in developed nations.
Maternal Mortality Ratio is the ratio of the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. In the United States, the maternal death rate is 17 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in the year 2000. Sierra Leone has the highest maternal death rate at 2,000, and Afghanistan has the second highest maternal death rate at 1900 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, reported by the UN based on 2000 figures. Lowest rates included Iceland at 0 per 100,000 and Austria at 4 per 100,000. "Lifetime risk of maternal death" accounts for number of pregnancies and risk. In sub-Saharan Africa the lifetime risk of maternal death is 1 in 16, for developed nations only 1 in 2,800.
High rates of maternal deaths occur in the same countries that have high rates of infant mortality reflecting generally poor nutrition and medical care.
Low birth weight of the child increases the risk of maternal death from cardiovascular disease. Subtracting one kilogram of infant birth weight doubles the risk of maternal death. Therefore, the heavier the birth weight of child, the lower the risk of maternal death.
Known maternal death victims
Known people whose mothers died giving birth to them
Maternal death in fiction
In Charles_Dickens' novel Oliver Twist the title character's mother Agnes, dies giving birth to him. Square Enix's Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest video game series also mentioned maternal death. Raine of Final Fantasy VIII died giving birth to the game's protagonist Squall Leonhart. The mother of the Dragon Quest V hero was rumored to have died in childbirth. In the motion picture, The Mask of Zorro, the antagonist Don Rafael Montero, enemy of Don Diego de la Vega, lied that Esperanza de la Vega dying in childbirth, but Esperanza de la Vega was actually gunned down instead. Then Montero raised her daughter Elena. In the motion picture Contact, the mother of the protagonist, portrayed by actress Jodie Foster, died giving birth to the protagonist.
Maternal death rates in the 20th century
The death rate for women giving birth plummeted in the 20th century.
At the beginning of the century, maternal death rates were around their historical level of nearly 1 in 100 for live births. The number today in the United States is 1 in 10,000, a 99% decline.
The decline in maternal deaths has been due largely to better drugs and medical procedures such as increased prenatal care, better education, and the increase in expendable incomes to pay for all this.