Study Shows Mothers’ Lives Saved

More than 20 years of efforts by maternal child health care workers has paid off with the news that pregnancy- and childbirth-related deaths worldwide have decreased substantially since the Safe Motherhood Initiative began more than 20 years ago. This information comes from an in-depth study led by researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle and published in The Lancet (1) earlier this year. Generous funding by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation allowed them to search out and include in their analysis data that had not been used in previous maternal mortality estimates, achieving more complete and accurate results.

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About Author: Marion Toepke McLean

Marion Toepke McLean, CNM, attended her first birth as primary midwife in August 1971. She received her nursing degree from Pacific Lutheran University in 1966 and her midwifery and family nurse practitioner degree from Frontier Nursing Service in 1974. From 1976 through 2001 she did home, clinic and hospital births, while also working as a family nurse practitioner. In 1980 she taught a year-long program for local midwives, returning to Frontier Nursing Service to teach during the summer. She had a homebirth practice until 1985, when she went to work at the Nurse-Midwifery Birthing Service, a freestanding birth center. In June 2000 she completed a BA in International Studies at the University of Oregon, with concentrated studies on Mexico. Since 2002 she has worked in a reproductive health clinic and attended an occasional homebirth. She lives in Eugene, Oregon, and is a contributing editor to Midwifery Today.

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