MEDICAL ADVANCES

Thanks to modern medicine there has never been a safer time to be pregnant. Advances in care mean that mother and child are cushioned from pregnancy’s risks in most developed countries, and the situation is generally improving worldwide.

The care given to pregnant women during pregnancy and birth has improved unrecognizably, such that it is easy to take for granted and forget how hazardous pregnancy and birth once were. Even a century ago, it was not unusual to see maternal death rates of 500 in every 100,000 women giving birth in countries such as the US or the UK. Today, that figure is much lower, with between 4 and 17 women per 100,000 dying in developed nations.

This sea-change is a result of improvements in medicine and the quality of care, especially in the second half of the 20th century, alongside nutritional and socioeconomic improvements. Nevertheless, safety in pregnancy still needs to be improved internationally. In 2008 about 360,000 women died from pregnancy - or childbirth-related causes, mostly in the developing world. Globally, infant health has also massively improved, and the mortality rate in children under a year old is less than half of the mortality in 1960.

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  • Category: Pregnancy and childbirth