Maternal Mortality in Developing Countries

By | May 15, 2012





  • The World Health Organization estimates thatapproximately 500,000 women die each year from pregnancy-related causes, more than 98% of these deaths occurring in the developing world.

Risk factors:

  1. most vulnerable period is postpartum period.
  • > 60% of maternal deaths occurred in the postpartum period;
  •  45% of postpartum deaths occurred within 1 day of delivery,
  • > 65% within 1 week,
  • > 80% within 2 weeks.
  • In developing countries, 80% of postpartum deaths caused by obstetric factors occurred within 1 week.

2.    malnutrition

3.    poverty

4.    illiteracy


  • obstructed labor
  • ruptured uterus
  • postpartum hemorrhage
  • maternal hypertension (10–15% of maternal deaths are associated with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy: difficult to prevent)
  • eclampsia (10% are associated with eclampsia.)
  • postpartum infection and
  • complications of illegal abortion.
  • malnutrition


  • barriers for the effective treatment of maternal mortality.
  • inexperienced staff, inadequate drugs and supplies.
  • presentation at late stage of disease due to lack of awareness about the severity of condition.
  • clinical mismanagement
  • administrative delays

Prevention strategies

  1. Prerequisites for the prevention
  • many cases are avoidable
  • there should be the knowledge of magnitude of problem.
  • education of health professionals and communities

2. Barriers for the prevention of maternal mortality.

  • lack of resources.
  • ill informed health professionals


Beyond the numbers.Reviewing maternal deaths and complications to make pregnancy safer.2004 – 150 pages




Strategies for reducing maternal mortality in developing countries: what can we learn from the history of the industrialized West?

DULEY, LELIA (1992) Maternal mortality associated with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology 99 (7), 547-553.doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.1992.tb13818.x


Thaddeus S, Maine D. Too far to walk: maternal mortality in context.

Li XF, Fortney JA, Kotelchuck M, Glover LH. The postpartum period: the key to maternal mortality.
Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 1996 Jul;54(1):1-10. Review.