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Expert criticises report that said UK’s maternal death rate was twice that of Belarus

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h2444 (Published 11 May 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2444
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

The charity Save the Children has found in a report that women in the United Kingdom are more than twice as likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth as those in Poland or Belarus.1 The claim was reported in all major British newspapers, and the Scotsman devoted a leader to the subject, under the title A shocking indictment.

Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of Save the Children International, said, “We urgently need to close the gap in life chances for mothers and children so that no matter where they live, everyone has a fair chance to survive and fulfil their potential.”

The source for the charity’s data was a report by United Nations agencies and the World Bank called Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990-2013,2 which was an authoritative attempt to measure maternal deaths across the world. It showed huge gaps …

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