Is maternal mortality preventable?

It is hard to answer this question because the causes of and situations surrounding maternal mortality are complex.

At a global level, the majority of maternal deaths occur in developing countries, where women have limited or no access to healthcare services.1

In the United States, many factors play a role in maternal mortality. In some cases, care before, during, and after pregnancy and childbirth may help prevent or treat complications and problems that may lead to a maternal death. In other cases, access to that care may be limited or the quality of that care may be low. In still other cases, a maternal death may occur with no warning signs or symptoms for healthcare providers to treat. There is no single way to prevent maternal mortality.

Research that advances our understanding of pregnancy and childbirth eventually will help improve maternal healthcare, inform treatments, and potentially allow clinicians to identify complications before maternal health is threatened. Learn more at NICHD Maternal Mortality Research Information.

At the same time, healthcare providers, hospitals and health systems, families, and pregnant women are acting to reduce maternal mortality. Some of these activities include creating maternal mortality review committees to examine causes of maternal death, sharing safety checklists among hospitals, improving access to quality healthcare, and alerting women about signs and symptoms of complications that may become serious.


    1. World Health Organization. (2018). Maternal mortality. Retrieved January 3, 2019, from 

What causes maternal mortality?

Is maternal mortality preventable?

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