Good News! Fewer Moms Dying In Childbirth
The findings, published in the medical journal The Lancet, challenge the prevailing view of maternal mortality as an intractable problem that has defied every effort to solve it.
“The overall message, for the first time in a generation, is one of persistent and welcome progress,” the journal’s editor, Dr. Richard Horton, wrote in a comment accompanying the article, published online on Monday.
The study cited a number of reasons for the improvement: lower pregnancy rates in some countries; higher income, which improves nutrition and access to health care; more education for women; and the increasing availability of “skilled attendants” — people with some medical training — to help women give birth. Improvements in large countries like India and China helped to drive down the overall death rates.
But some advocates for women’s health tried to pressure The Lancet into delaying publication of the new findings, fearing that good news would detract from the urgency of their cause, Dr. Horton said in a telephone interview.
“I think this is one of those instances when science and advocacy can conflict,” he said.
Dr. Horton said the advocates, whom he declined to name, wanted the new information held and released only after certain meetings about maternal and child health had already taken place.
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