Maternal mortality ratio (modeled estimate, per 100,000 live births)

Definition: Maternal mortality ratio is the number of women who die from pregnancy-related causes while pregnant or within 42 days of pregnancy termination per 100,000 live births. The data are estimated with a regression model using information on the proportion of maternal deaths among non-AIDS deaths in women ages 15-49, fertility, birth attendants, and GDP.

Description: The map below shows how Maternal mortality ratio (modeled estimate, per 100,000 live births) varies by country. The shade of the country corresponds to the magnitude of the indicator. The darker the shade, the higher the value. The country with the highest value in the world is Sierra Leone, with a value of 1,360.00. The country with the lowest value in the world is Iceland, with a value of 3.00.

Source: WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank Group, and the United Nations Population Division. Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2015. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2015

See also: Country ranking, Time series comparison

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Limitations and Exceptions: The methodology differs from that used for previous estimates, so data should not be compared historically. Maternal mortality ratios are generally of unknown reliability, as are many other cause-specific mortality indicators. The ratios cannot be assumed to provide an exact estimate of maternal mortality.

Original Source Notes: Estimates of maternal mortality are presented along with upper and lower limits of intervals (see footnote) designed to depict the uncertainty of estimates. The intervals are the product of a detailed probabilistic evaluation of the uncertainty attributable to the various components of the estimation process. For estimates derived from the multilevel regression model, the components of uncertainty were divided into two groups: those reflected within the regression model (internal sources), and those due to assumptions or calculations that occur outside the model (external sources). Estimates of the total uncertainty reflect a combination of these various sources.

Statistical Concept and Methodology: Reproductive health is a state of physical and mental well-being in relation to the reproductive system and its functions and processes. Means of achieving reproductive health include education and services during pregnancy and childbirth, safe and effective contraception, and prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. Complications of pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death and disability among women of reproductive age in developing countries. Maternal mortality ratios are generally of unknown reliability, as are many other cause-specific mortality indicators. Household surveys such as Demographic and Health Surveys attempt to measure maternal mortality by asking respondents about survivorship of sisters. The main disadvantage of this method is that the estimates of maternal mortality that it produces pertain to 12 years or so before the survey, making them unsuitable for monitoring recent changes or observing the impact of interventions. In addition, measurement of maternal mortality is subject to many types of errors. Even in high-income countries with reliable vital registration systems, misclassification of maternal deaths has been found to lead to serious underestimation. The modeled estimates are based on an exercise by the Maternal Mortality Estimation Inter-Agency Group (MMEIG) which consists of World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and World Bank, and include country-level time series data. For countries without complete registration data but with other types of data and for countries with no data, maternal mortality is estimated with a multilevel regression model using available national maternal mortality data and socioeconomic information, including fertility, birth attendants, and GDP.

Aggregation method: Weighted average

Periodicity: Annual

General Comments: Relevance to gender indicator: this indicator represents the risk associated with each pregnancy and is also a Millennium Development Goal Indicator for monitoring maternal health.