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Washington Times, July 2, 2007

U.N. Reports Startling Stats on Maternal Health

By Betsy Pisik

The U.N. Population Fund is co-sponsoring a global conference on maternal health and mortality this autumn, with some startling statistics for Washington and many other capitals.

Every year, about 529,000 women die of pregnancy- or birth-related trauma or illness, with the majority of cases clustered in the poorest countries and cities, officials say. Nearly half of all pregnancies sustain complications, but most are treatable with proper care, medicine or a Caesarian-section birth. Often, medicine and midwives are not available.

In Afghanistan, one in seven women die in childbirth, according to the World Health Organization. In sub-Saharan Africa, mothers have a one in 16 chance of dying. In Sweden, the figure is more approximately one death for every 30,000 deliveries.

Conference organizers say 19 million unsafe abortions are performed annually.

The United States, where 46 million people lack health insurance, has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the industrialized world, according to the WHO. Approximately 1,000 women die every year of pregnancy- or birth-related complications, mostly poor women with untreated diabetes, high blood pressure or hemorrhages.

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