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Maternal and Newborn Health

maternity

Maternal and Newborn Health

WHO: 10 facts on maternal health

About 358 000 women died in 2008 of complications during pregnancy or childbirth. Most of these deaths can be avoided as the necessary medical interventions exist and are well known. The key obstacle is pregnant women's lack of access to quality care before, during and after childbirth.

Millennium Development Goal 5 (MDG 5), improve maternal health, set the targets of reducing maternal mortality by 75% and achieving universal access to reproductive health by 2015. But, so far progress in reducing mortality in developing countries and providing family planning services has been too slow to meet the targets.

WHO is supporting countries in delivering integrated, evidence-based and cost-effective care for mothers and babies during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. Investing in health systems -- especially in training midwives and in making emergency obstetric care available round-the-clock -- is key to reducing maternal mortality. Read more in WHO fact file

WHO: Newborns - reducing mortality,

Fact sheet N°333, May 2012

Key facts

  • Every year nearly 40% of all under-five child deaths are among newborn infants, babies in their first 28 days of life or the neonatal period.
  • Three quarters of all newborn deaths occur in the first week of life.
  • In developing countries nearly half of all mothers and newborns do not receive skilled care during and immediately after birth.
  • Up to two thirds of newborn deaths can be prevented if known, effective health measures are provided at birth and during the first week of life.
  • The vast majority of newborn deaths take place in developing countries where access to health care is low. Most of these newborns die at home, without skilled care that could greatly increase their chances for survival.

Skilled health care during pregnancy, childbirth and in the postnatal (immediately following birth) period prevents complications for mother and newborn, and allows for early detection and management of problems. In addition, WHO and UNICEF now recommend home visits by a skilled health worker during a baby's first week of life to improve newborn survival. Newborns in special circumstances, such as low-birth-weight babies, babies born to HIV-positive mothers, or sick babies, require additional care and should be referred to a hospital. Read more…

WHO: 10 facts on breastfeeding

July 2012

Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival. Optimal breastfeeding together with complementary feeding help prevent malnutrition and can save about a million child lives.

Globally less than 40% of infants under six months of age are exclusively breastfed. Adequate breastfeeding support for mothers and families could save many young lives.

WHO actively promotes breastfeeding as the best source of nourishment for infants and young children. This fact file explores the many benefits of the practice, and how robust help for mothers can increase breastfeeding worldwide. Read more…