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Story Publication logo April 21, 2010

The Dangers of Childbirth in Southern Mexico


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An infant born in the state of Chiapas as three times as likely to die as the rate for Mexico as a...


Among dozens of other brightly dressed women, Eugenia Urbina has been waiting on the stairs of the main hospital in this central Chiapas town for nearly two hours. Nine months pregnant with her third child, the 24-year-old seeks prenatal care. The long wait makes her worry that when the time comes to give birth, the hospital will not have room for her.

"It happens a lot," Urbina said, and if it does, she'll have to pay more than she can afford to drive around in a taxi for up to an hour to find a clinic that can take her.

It's not just a question of inconvenience. The brutal drug gang murders sweeping across Mexico have captured the headlines. But a more insidious killer stalks the south of the country, where women in Mexico's poorest states -- many of them indigenous -- are dying in childbirth at nearly twice the rate of the national average.

A study published this month in the British medical journal The Lancet found that maternal mortality is falling in most countries, including Mexico, where overall maternal death rates dropped from 152 per 100,000 births in 1980 to 52 in 2008. (For comparison, the 2008 rate was four in Italy, 17 in the United States and 1,575 in Afghanistan.)

But the differential within the country is stark, and the problem is particularly acute in the poorest southern states of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guerrero. More than 1 million people in Chiapas, most of whom are indigenous, do not have access to health care, according to SIPAZ, a poverty research group.

Read the full story on AOL News.

Translation assistance by Cynthia Mazariegos.

Note: Excerpts of this story and slideshow were also featured by the Global Health Council on April 22, 2009.


Three women grouped together: an elderly woman smiling, a transwoman with her arms folded, and a woman holding her headscarf with a baby strapped to her back.


Gender Equality

Gender Equality
navy halftone illustration of a female doctor with her arms crossed


Health Inequities

Health Inequities

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