Each year, 2.6 million babies are stillborn, and 2.5 million newborns die during the first month of life. Almost 300,000 women die each year from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Almost all maternal and newborn deaths occur in low-income countries, and the vast majority are preventable.
98% of newborn (neonatal) and maternal deaths and stillbirths occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Two-thirds occur in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Neonatal Mortality Rate (Deaths Per 1,000 Live Births) in 2018, by Country
Maternal Mortality Ratio (Deaths Per 100,000 Live Births) in 2015
Source: THE LANCET
Women die as a result of complications during and following pregnancy and childbirth. Most of these complications develop during pregnancy and many are preventable or treatable. Other complications may exist before pregnancy but are worsened during pregnancy, especially if not managed as part of the woman’s care. The major complications that account for nearly 75% of all maternal deaths are:
- severe bleeding (mostly bleeding after childbirth)
- infections (usually after childbirth)
- high blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia and eclampsia)
- complications from delivery
- unsafe abortion
Death among newborns (<1 month of age) is the leading cause of child mortality, accounting for 44% of deaths in children under 5 years old. Complications from preterm birth are now the preeminent cause of all child mortality. A baby born in a low-income country is up to 50-times more likely to die in childbirth compared to a baby born in the United States. Newborn infections remain common in low-income countries, where over 50% of births occur outside of hospital facilities. Furthermore, all these conditions carry increased risk of adverse health effects later in life, including poor growth, disability, and adult chronic diseases.
Most maternal and newborn deaths take place in communities which have the least resources and investment, the weakest health and information systems, and the poorest access to cost-effective interventions to prevent them. These are the communities in which we work.