The number of women who die while giving birth has plummeted over the last 30 years, thanks mostly to dramatic improvements in populous rising nations like India, China, Brazil, and Egypt, according to a new study. Globally, 251 mothers died for every 100,000 babies born in 2008, a 40% decrease over 1980, the study revealed. During that period, China’s rate fell from 165 to 40, while India’s fell steeply from 677 to 254.
Overall, Italy was the safest place to have a child, with 4 maternal deaths per 100,000 births, while Afghanistan was the deadliest, with 1,575. The US has 17. The report comes ahead of a meeting of public health experts in New York this week to discuss ways to further reduce maternal and child mortality. “We do not have a silver bullet for achieving this,” one Italian physician tells the Washington Post. Rather, known fixes must be more widely implemented. (Read more child mortality stories.)