Maternal Health is a BIG topic these days

Maternal health is a big topic these days (and not just because BlogHers Act has made it the cause for the year!). Here are the highlights --

-- Airing tonight on PBS at 8:30 p.m., is an hour-long program Child Brides: Stolen Lives. Here's what's going on. Around the world, young girls are being forced to marry, and their little bodies often can't handle pregnancy so they die in childbirth or are so wounded by it that they remain outcasts for the rest of their lives. When these young girls are forced to marry before they're 18 -- 100 million of them over the next ten years -- they drop out of school, have no way of supporting themselves or their family, and doom everyone to continued poverty. The greatest indicators of maternal health are the age of the mother and her education. So, around the globe, with so many young, young girls getting being married, the communities don't have a chance to improve their lots. The mothers aren't there to provide the needed backbone and support.

Emily Douglas interviewed the filmmaker Maria Hinojosa and blogged about the conversation.

-- Today, the latest statistics on maternal mortality were officially released by the World Health Organization, the World Bank, UNICEF and UNFPA. Essentially, more than 500,000 women die each year in pregnancy or childbirth and we are nowhere near reaching the Millennium Development Goal. The BBC had this report:

"Experts have condemned the "appalling" lack of progress made in reducing the number of women worldwide dying during pregnancy and childbirth.

"Analysis in The Lancet medical journal shows half a million women die every year - little change from 20 years ago.

"And 20 million unsafe abortions - a major factor in maternal deaths and illness - are done annually.

"A key global target of 75% reduction in maternal deaths by 2015 will not be met without urgent action, they warned.

"Dr Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet, said women were too often seen as "containers" for babies and nothing more.

"He said there should be no more excuses or delay in attempts to dramatically cut the number of deaths by three-quarters, as was set out in the Millennium Development Goals."

Included in the report released today are statistics on maternal mortality. Some comparisons: In the U.S., one in 4800 women will die from pregnancy or childbirth. In Italy, by comparison, it's one in 26,000. And we thought we had the best healthcare?!? In the developed world, the U.S. is 36th. But compare our numbers with Afghanistan, Congo, or Niger, with 1 in 8, 1 in 13 or 1 in 7 girls and women dying because they got pregnant. And, as Child Brides: Stolen Lives shows, most of them are married.

-- Next week is the Women Deliver conference in London, a history-making gathering of thousands of people who are dedicated to improving maternal health around the world. I'll be attending the conference and will blog about it here and at Been There and The Motherhood. If you have any questions you'd like me to ask participants, or would like to cross-post or get involved in any other way, please let me know in the comments!!!!!

In advance of the conference, you might want to read Jill Sheffield's blog. She's the inspiration behind the conference and

-- October 24 is Blog Day for MOTHERS Act. Katherine Stone has posted about our collective interest in and commitment to passing this law to support women with postpartum depression. Please read Katherine's post, and get ready to blog about MOTHERS Act on October 24!!! There is so much more for us to do, and Katherine has outlined it beautifully in her post.

That's it for now. Look for posts from London next week!


Emily McKhann

Website: The Motherhood

Blog: Been There

BlogHer Contributing Editor: BlogHers Act

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