Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Education, not abortion, reduces maternal mortality, study suggests

Date:
May 10, 2012
Source:
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine
Summary:
A study conducted in Chile has found that the most important factor in reducing maternal mortality is the educational level of women.

A scientific analysis of 50 years of maternal mortality data from Chile has found that the most important factor in reducing maternal mortality is the educational level of women. "Educating women enhances women's ability to access existing health care resources, including skilled attendants for childbirth, and directly leads to a reduction in her risk of dying during pregnancy and childbirth," according to Dr Elard Koch, epidemiologist and leading author of the study.

Related Articles


The research entitled "Women's Education Level, Maternal Health Facilities, Abortion Legislation and Maternal Deaths: a Natural Experiment in Chile from 1957 to 2007" was conducted on behalf of the Chilean Maternal Mortality Research Initiative (CMMRI) and published in the May 4 issue of PLoS ONE.

Using 50 years of official data from Chile's National Institute of Statistics (1957-2007), the authors looked at factors likely to affect maternal mortality, such as years of education, per capita income, total fertility rate, birth order, clean water supply, sanitary sewer, and childbirth delivery by skilled attendants. They also analyze the effect of historical educational and maternal health policies, including legislation that has prohibited abortion in Chile since 1989, on maternal mortality.

During the fifty-year study period, the overall Maternal Mortality Ratio or MMR (the number of maternal deaths related to childbearing divided by the number of live births) dramatically declined by 93.8%, from 270.7 to 18.2 deaths per 100,000 live births between 1957 and 2007, making Chile a paragon for maternal health in other countries.

"In fact, during 2008, the overall MMR declined again, to 16.5 per 100,000 live births, positioning Chile as the country with the second lowest ratio in the American continent after Canada and with at least two points lower MMR than United States" said Koch.

One of the most significant findings is that, contrary to widely-held assumptions, making abortion illegal in Chile did not result in an increase in maternal mortality. In fact, after abortion was made illegal in 1989, the MMR continued to decrease from 41.3 to 12.7 per 100,000 live births (69.2% reduction). "Definitively, the legal status of abortion is unrelated to overall maternal mortality rates" emphasized Koch.

The variables affecting this decrease included the predictable factors of delivery by skilled attendants, complementary nutrition for pregnant women and their children in the primary care clinics and schools, clean facilities, and fertility. But the most important factor and the one which increased the effect of all others was the educational level of women. For every additional year of maternal education there was a corresponding decrease in the MMR of 29.3 per 100,000 live births.

The picture for Chile includes a transition of leading causes of death along with an accelerated decline of fertility and delayed motherhood. Koch explained that direct causes -those directly attributable to pregnancy condition- were the rule before 1980, but from then, indirect causes -i.e. non-obstetric chronic conditions such as hypertension and diabetes among others- rise as the most prevalent, hindering the decline on maternal mortality.

"This study uncovers an ongoing 'fertility paradox' in maternal health: education is the major modulator that has helped Chile to reach one of the safest motherhood in the world, but also contributes to decrease fertility, excessively delaying motherhood and puts mothers on risk because of their older age." Thus, an emerging problem nowadays "is not a question of how many children a mother has, but a question of when a mother has her children, specially the first of them" concluded Koch.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Elard Koch, John Thorp, Miguel Bravo, Sebastiαn Gatica, Camila X. Romero, Hernαn Aguilera, Ivonne Ahlers. Women's Education Level, Maternal Health Facilities, Abortion Legislation and Maternal Deaths: A Natural Experiment in Chile from 1957 to 2007. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (5): e36613 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0036613

Cite This Page:

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. "Education, not abortion, reduces maternal mortality, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120510141909.htm>.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. (2012, May 10). Education, not abortion, reduces maternal mortality, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120510141909.htm
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. "Education, not abortion, reduces maternal mortality, study suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120510141909.htm (accessed January 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC: Get Vaccinated for Measles

CDC: Get Vaccinated for Measles

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) — The CDC is urging people to get vaccinated for measles amid an outbreak that began at Disneyland and has now infected more than 90 people. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama To Outline New Plan For Personalized Medicine

Obama To Outline New Plan For Personalized Medicine

Newsy (Jan. 30, 2015) — President Obama is expected to speak with drugmakers Friday about his Precision Medicine Initiative first introduced last week. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NFL Concussions Down; Still on Parents' Minds

NFL Concussions Down; Still on Parents' Minds

AP (Jan. 30, 2015) — The NFL announced this week that the number of game concussions dropped by a quarter over last season. Still, the dangers of the sport still weigh on players, and parents&apos; minds. (Jan. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

U.S. Wants to Analyze DNA from 1 Million People

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 30, 2015) — The U.S. has proposed analyzing genetic information from more than 1 million American volunteers to learn how genetic variants affect health and disease. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins