Pregnancy's toll in the developing world

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.308.6925.353 (Published 05 February 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:353
  1. A Tonks

    About one woman a minute - or half a million women a year - die of complications of pregnancy. The top five killers are unsafe abortion, hypertensive disease of pregnancy, bleeding, obstructed labour, and infection. Most of these deaths occur in developing countries, and the death toll is increasing as the number of women of childbearing age increases.1 Estimated maternal mortality in Africa, Asia, and Latin America is 600, 400, and 240 deaths per 100 000 live births respectively compared with rates in some developed countries of less than 10 per 100 000 live births.2 Many other women suffer the long term effects of poorly managed labours or unsafe abortions.

    Deaths and serious illness due to pregnancy are often the final disastrous results of social, economic, and cultural pressures that affect women in the developing world. Undervalued and uneducated as children, many marry young and are overworked and underfed as adults while being denied the power to make choices about their fertility. For example, in India mortality is higher in females than males from birth until the fourth decade, a …

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