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By the numbers.

EVERY 90 SECONDS a woman dies in childbirth. Ninety-nine percent of those women live in developing countries. The severity of these statistics is why the United Nations made "improving maternal health" one of the Millennium Development Goals. While the United States spends more money than any other country on health care, it ranks 39th in maternal mortality rates--worse than most comparable European countries and Canada.

* The 2008 maternal mortality ratio in the U.S. was 16.6 per 100,000 births, compared to 8.2 in the U.K. and 3.9 in Italy.

* The child mortality rate in the U.S. was 6.7 per 1,000 live births, compared with 4.9 in Canada and 2.6 in Iceland (2000 to 2010).

* Out-of-hospital births dropped from 44 percent in 1940 to around 1 percent in 1969, which is still the current rate.

* An average, uncomplicated vaginal home birth costs 68 percent less than in a hospital (1999).

* In 2005, home births increased 5 percent in the U.S.

* 61 percent of U.S. home births were delivered by midwives in 2005.

SOURCES: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; The Lancet; The Guardian; Journal of Nurse-Midwifery; World Health Organization.

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Publication:Sojourners Magazine
Date:Dec 1, 2010
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