Global, Regional, and National Levels of Maternal Mortality, 1990-2015: A Systematic Analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015

Scott B. Patten, Mehdi Javanbakht, GBD 2015 Maternal Mortality Collaborators

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by the global community to provide benchmark targets for global development between 2015 and 2030 and to reframe the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to achieve sustainable global development. This report presents data on maternal mortality in 195 countries from 1990 to 2015. Maternal mortality data were categorized in 3 formats, namely, number of deaths, cause-specific mortality rate per capita, and cause fraction. The overall maternal mortality was modeled using cause-of-death ensemble modeling (CODEm). The number of deaths, maternal mortality ratios (MMRs), and 95% uncertainty intervals were reported for all estimates.

The results indicate that the overall decline in global maternal deaths from 1990 to 2015 was approximately 29% (390,185 in 1990; 374,321 in 2000; and 275,288 in 2015), and the reduction in MMR was 30% (282 in 1990, 288 in 2000, and 196 in 2015). In 1990, it was found that 60 countries had an MMR of more than 200, 40 countries had an MMR of more than 400, 15 countries had an MMR of more than 600, and 1 country had an MMR of more than 1000. By 2015, 122 countries had an MMR of less than 70, and 49 countries had an MMR of less than 15. Although MMR and Sociodemographic Index improved between 1990 and 2015 in almost all regions, it was observed that MMR did not universally track with Sociodemographic Index over the whole time period in any single region. The observed minus expected (O - E) MMR ratio was consistently found to be 1.25 or more in many regions; however, MMR reductions slowed considerably, and the O - E MMR ratio was 1.41 in 2015. The risk of maternal mortality increased greatly with age, but decreased greatly in almost all age groups from 1990 to 2015. It was observed that MMR in 10- to 14-year-old girls in 2015 was 278; it then decreased and was lowest in women aged 15 to 29 years before increasing significantly to 1832 in 50- to 54-year-old women. Direct obstetric causes accounted for 86% of all maternal deaths in 2015 due to maternal hemorrhage, maternal hypertensive disorders, and other maternal disorders in comparison to 1990 when direct complications accounted for 87% of all maternal deaths. Other maternal disorders caused approximately 74,299 deaths in 1990 and decreased to 32,734 deaths in 2015.

The study authors conclude that although there is global progress in reducing maternal mortality in the past 15 years, more and better data collection systems should be put in place to devise better health care policies and to educate women about reproductive care options available to them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-13
Number of pages3
JournalObstetrical and Gynecological Survey
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


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