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Maternal Mortality Reflections on the 20th Century

The latest issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report concludes that from 1900 to 1997, maternal death rate in the United States has declined almost 99% to an average of less than 0.1% per 1000 live births. However, the rates vary across various income brackets and ethnic groups. The Report attributes the decline to a number of factors, including safer deliveries and the legalization of abortion, which accounted for an 89% decline in deaths from illegal abortions. However, the gap between black and white women’s maternal mortality has increased since 1900. Whereas at the turn of the century black women were twice as likely as white women to die of pregnancy, today black women are three times as likely to die of complications. The researchers also link unintended pregnancy with maternal mortality.

Sources:

Kaiser Daily Health Reports and Alan Gutmacher Institute - October 5, 1999

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