State of the World's Children


2013: Children with Disabilities

2012 : Children in an urban world

2011: Adolescence

Special: Child rights

2009: Maternal + newborn health

2008: Child survival

2007: Gender equality


Impact on children

The lack of progress on maternal health has implications for human development worldwide.

The avoidable loss of each woman who dies from pregnancy- or birth-related causes is disheartening enough in itself, but the problem is much graver and more widespread than the death statistics show.

A child is at especially high risk when a mother dies. Evidence shows that infants whose mothers die within the first six weeks of their lives are more likely to die before reaching age two than infants whose mothers survive.

The linkages between maternal and infant and child mortality extend further.

§ A mother’s death in childbirth denies her children their natural, primary caregiver.

§ Significantly increases the risk that her infant will die or fail to survive to age five.

§ A mother’s death also has an extremely detrimental effect on her children’s access to education and health care.

§ Many children who survive without mothers also risk being emotionally lost.

In addition, for every woman who dies in pregnancy or childbirth there are 20 who endure injury, infection, disease and disabilities, such as fistula, that cause lifelong suffering. Sometimes these are so severe that women are effectively removed, or even barred, from the family and from playing a major role in maintaining and improving their children’s health.

These women, moreover, are lost to their families and communities while they are still young or in their prime, when their most productive years would still have been ahead of them.

Investing in women and their health is meaningful as it strengthens families, communities and countries. Family budgets, local productivity and national wealth all flourish where maternal health is prioritised.





Maternal and Newborn Health

State of the World's Children's 2009


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