Posted: April 29, 2015 Contributor: PRJKT RUBY

5 Reasons Why Prenatal Deaths Occur in the Developing World

Over the past few decades, the prenatal death rate has plunged in the United States. This decline can be attributed to the advancement of modern medicine, the wide availability of educational resources and other cultural and societal improvements here in the U.S.

Sadly, the rate of prenatal deaths in the developing world is still bleak.

Facts About Prenatal Deaths in the Developing World (Source: WHO)

  • 99% of all maternal deaths take place in the developing world.
  • Younger women (adolescents) are at a higher risk of death or complications as a result of pregnancy than adults.
  • Many deaths can be prevented by proper health care for both mother and baby before, during and after childbirth.
  • Around the world, roughly 800 women die each day as a result of childbirth related problems.
  • Of all pregnancy related deaths in the developing world, the areas with the highest rates of mortality include sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
  • Women in the developing world average more pregnancies during their lifetime and their risk of death from pregnancy is also much higher than those in the developed world.

Why Prenatal Deaths Occur in the Developing World 

According to WHO, the following five complications are to blame for roughly 75% of all maternal deaths in the developing world.

Reason #1: Severe Bleeding
Without proper medical care, uncontrolled bleeding following childbirth can lead to extreme complications and often death. In the developed world, this issue is most commonly corrected with a shot of oxytocin.

Reason #2: Unsafe Abortion
Lack of access to birth control, as well as lack of information regarding pregnancy prevention, leads to many unintended pregnancies in the developing world. In many areas, girls begin having babies at the age of 15 and without access to safer abortion methods, many undergo unsafe abortions and develop life-threatening complications as a result.

Reason #3: Delivery-Related Complications
Just as delivery often results in complications in the U.S., the same holds true in the developing world. So what’s the difference? Women in the developing world don’t have the same access to medical care during birth as Americans and those in other areas of the developed world.

Reason #4: High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy 
High blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia) must be detected early on so that it does not result in convulsions (eclampsia) which can result in fatal complications. Many women in the developing world do not have access to doctors for prenatal exams and will not be able to get a diagnosis until it is too late.

Reason #5: Infections After Childbirth 
Post-pregnancy care is equally important and many women simply don’t have the opportunity to be properly cared for after giving birth.

How Can These Deaths be Avoided?

The rate of deaths associated with pregnancy and childbirth could drastically be reduced with access to modern technology and upgraded health care. Women in these areas often are impacted by poverty, distance to the nearest doctor, lack of information, services which are not up to par and cultural practices. These issues most commonly keep them from receiving the medical attention they so desperately need.

WHO and other organizations around the world are working to change this by educating women, offering affordable healthcare, free birth control, safe abortions and working to set a global standard for health care systems.