Eliminating maternal mortality could extend life expectancy in reproductive ages

February 25, 2014, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

Maternal death rates represent the single largest health discrepancy between developed and developing populations, with nearly all - over 99%—maternal deaths worldwide occurring in developing countries and over half of them in sub-Saharan Africa countries. Eliminating maternal mortality, which is defined as the deaths related to pregnancy, would result in a gain of over a half year (0.6 years) in life expectancy worldwide, according to a new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The study is published February 13 in PLOS ONE.

Over the twentieth century, women's life expectancy in developed countries increased by 0.5 years due to a near elimination of . In sub-Saharan African countries, the possible achievable gains from eliminating maternal mortality fluctuate between 0.24 and 1.47 years, or 6% and 44% of potential gains.

"This gain in life expectancy may seem a small increase at a first glance, but the added survival time takes place during the most productive ages of human life and carries with it non-trivial socio-economic implications for families, workforces, and communities," says Vladimir Canudas-Romo, lead author.

The study focuses on women's Reproductive-Age Life Expectancy, which covers the ages of 15 to 49. While maternal deaths are a rare event, eliminating them yields important benefits, including a significant increase to what many consider the most productive ages of human life. Another benefit would be improved health care, since one underlying assumption of maternal mortality is that it stems from insufficient health services. This would be a bonus to continuing along the trajectory of Millennium Development Goal 5, a reduction in maternal mortality of 75% by 2015.

"If programs that help promote female education, increase access to skilled birth attendants, expand access to family planning care, and collect health information properly all continue to work together to reduce maternal mortality, the increase [in ] suggested in our results will be eventually achieved." Monitoring levels and trends in maternal mortality and causes of death in these critical ages for both women and men should be a top priority among health system strengthening efforts in all countries, and particularly in those that are lagging in their achievement of the MDG 5.

The United Nations estimates that 287,000 occurred worldwide in 2010, with over half in sub-Saharan Africa. The estimated MMR (maternal mortality ratio) in sub-Saharan Africa is 500 deaths per live births, more than double the estimated 210 deaths per 100,000 live births worldwide. The two countries with the highest MMR's, Chad and Somalia, respectively with an MMR of 1,100 and 1,000, are located in this region.

Explore further: 'It takes a village'—Community-based methods for improving maternal and newborn health

More information: PLOS ONE Published: February 13, 2014DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0086694

Related Stories

'It takes a village'—Community-based methods for improving maternal and newborn health

February 18, 2014
A series of studies are published in a special supplement that presents results of the Maternal and Newborn Health in Ethiopia Partnership—a three-year pilot program funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with the ...

Maternal deaths cut by half: UN

May 16, 2012
Better care has cut the number of women dying in pregnancy and childbirth by nearly half in the past two decades, but there is still a death every two minutes, according to UN figures released Wednesday.

Best-case scenario suggests that just one in five countdown countries can meet targets for cutting child mortality

September 19, 2013
A comprehensive new analysis of interventions to reduce maternal and child deaths in developing countries, published in The Lancet, reveals that if current trends continue, just nine Countdown countries will meet internationally ...

Action needed with Burma maternal, child health

December 2, 2013
As a regional neighbour to Myanmar, the Commonwealth Government has recognised Australia has a responsibility – and the capacity – to help alleviate poverty in the developing nation. Australia is also able to support ...

Recommended for you

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.