American mothers are more likely to die during childbirth than they were twenty years ago, data released by the World Health Organization shows--but globally, maternal death rates have fallen by almost half in the same period of time. Reuters has more:
The WHO tracks maternal mortality as one of the "Millennium Development Goals" that the United Nations set for 2015. Death rates have fallen by 45 percent globally since 1990, to an estimated 289,000 women in 2013.
Giving birth in the United States remains far safer than in most countries, with only 28 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2013. But that is 136 percent higher than the 1990 mortality rate, when only 12 mothers died for every 100,000 births, the data showed.
No other country recorded such a large percentage increase, although a few other rich countries also failed to keep maternal mortality in check. In Canada, deaths rose from 6 to 11 per 100,000 births between 1990 and 2013. Many European countries and Japan have mortality rates in single figures.
China has cut its rate by two-thirds since 1990, with 32 women dying for every 100,000 live births in 2013.
WHO experts said the increase in the U.S. mortality rate may be a statistical blip. Or it might be due to increased risks from obesity, diabetes and older women giving birth.
Marleen Temmerman, the director of reproductive health and research at WHO, said more analysis was needed.