The maternal mortality rate reflects the number of maternal deaths in a population due to both direct obstetric causes and to conditions aggravated by pregnancy or childbirth. The maternal mortality rate in the United States is approximately 7.7 deaths per 100,000 pregnancies.

Research indicates that 88 to 98 percent of all maternal deaths can be prevented. Socioeconomic factors such as poverty, education level, and malnutrition have proven to be the underlying causes of most maternal deaths. Maternal mortality rates are substantially less in developed countries (1 in 1,800) than in developing countries (1 in 48), illustrating the impact of socioeconomic status. To keep the rates as low as possible, health officials in all nations must advocate for quality health services for all women during pregnancy and childbirth.

Beth Hensleigh

Internet Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Maternal Mortality: United States, 1982–1996." Available from <>

World Health Organization. "Reduction of Maternal Mortality. A Joint WHO/UNFPA/UNICEF/World Bank Statement." Available from <>