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July 15th, 2008
Birth of a Surgeon
Data: Global Maternal Mortality
The top ten countries with the best maternal mortality ratio*
Ireland – 1 ireland
Bosnia/Herzegovina – 3 bosnia
Denmark – 3 afghanistan
Greece – 3 chad
Italy – 3 somalia
Sweden – 3 angola
Australia – 4 rwanda
Austria – 4 liberia
Czech Republic – 4 czech republic
Germany – 4 germany

United States – 8 usa

The top ten countries with the worst maternal mortality ratio*
Sierra Leone – 2100 sierra leone
Niger – 1800 niger
Afghanistan – 1800 afghanistan
Chad – 1500 chad
Somalia – 1400 somalia
Angola – 1400 angola
Rwanda -1300 rwanda
Liberia – 1200 liberia
Nigeria – 1100 nigeria
Malawi – 1100 malawi
*Maternal mortality ratio is the annual number of deaths of women from pregnancy-related causes per 100,000 live births in 2005.
Source: UNICEF, The State of the World’s Children 2008
  • Rita Ben-Or

    As an R.N. I was aware that the U.S. was not among the ten lowest in maternal mortality, however I was surprised to see that Bosnia was so far ahead of us. We have to do better!

  • Scott Hickling

    I am a former police detective and rescue squad volunteer. I did those things because I love people and want to help them not suffer unnecessarily. For the United States, as the so-called leader of the free world, it is simply a worldwide embarassment (and not acceptable!) for this country not to lead the way in reducing infant mortality! Low birth weights, SIDS, accidents and other causes that may be preventable are the responsibity of an enlightened society to investigate and elimminate to the highest degree possible. We are in the 3rd millenium of human history and enjoy advanced priviledges most of the world has never experienced. Let us not say we will do better, let’s JUST DO IT!…and lead by example.
    It’s not hard. What IS hard is to watch the statistics and see that we dont seem to care as a country. God bless America? I still say ‘yes’ to that but so far, we’re not looking like a very enlightened people. It’s time for change and time for us to rise higher and see a larger picture of our survival as a species… and our necessary role as the healers of our planet.

  • Joyce Thomas

    When the US allows midwives to be put in jail to satisfy the “obstetric machine,” you know that they are only profit-motivated. Why else are mothers “hooked up” to machines, drugs, and all manner of dangerous interventions?! In pregnancy, labor, birth and breastfeeding — LESS IS MORE!

    And remember, Breast Milk has STEM CELLS! Why are we still throwing it away? Because they can’t make money off of it!

  • Ken Stone

    People can call it “an embarrassment” for the U.S. not to lead the world in the area of infant mortality , but it’s not clear who should be embarrassed. OB/Gyns? Midwives? Politicians? The population as a whole?

    The dramatic statistical differences in maternal and infant mortality across the world point to not only very different practices and standards of care, but also very different societies, levels of economic development, levels of disease burden, nutritional factors, education, and on and on and on….

    With specific regard to maternal mortality, perhaps there are a few more professionals in the U.S. than elsewhere who have significant room to improve. Learning to more quickly identify those people (as well as the root causes leading to their deficiencies) might ultimately help to bring our numbers more into line with European achievements.

    But even before condemning U.S. medical practices as necessarily being at fault, I think it would also be reasonable to acknowledge that there are geographical and maternal population differences between the U.S. and Europe that come into play as well.

    Europeans, by and large, are fitter than their American counterparts. There is (substantially) less obesity in Europe and the hazards that accompany it. I don’t know what crack cocaine prevalence is like in Ireland, but I’d guess that it’s a bit more of a problem here in the U.S., as I’ve personally witnessed women who have precipitated labor with it. Genetic factors may come into play as well: pelvic proportions, tendency to hemorrhage, and tendency to develop pulmonary emboli all come to mind as things that will vary from population to population. Yes, women may be women the world over, but the U.S. still has a far more diverse (and somewhat more high risk) patient population mix than most European nations do, and I think that needs to be acknowledged.

  • Jennifer

    Please take another look at the stats. We do NOT rank in the 10 lowest mortality. We are in the high 20’s. Infant Mortality is even worse. Check ALL the stats yourself at the WHO website and more.

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