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Maternal and Child Health

Photo of mother holding her child

The Problem

Fast Facts

  • Every day, approximately 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Newborn, or neonatal, deaths account for 40% of all deaths among children under five.
  • Pneumonia kills an estimated 1.1 million children under the age of five years every year—more than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined
  • Each year diarrhea kills around 760,000 children under five.

The health of women and children is vital to creating a healthy world. Despite great progress, there are still too many mothers and children dying—mostly from causes that could have been prevented. Every day, approximately 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries. In 2012, 6.6 million children died before age 5—5 million of them in the first year of life.

Improvements in maternal and child (MCH) are a major focus of the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs 4, 5, and 6), which still need substantial work to achieve 2015 targets, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

What CDC Is Doing

CDC has a decades-long history of engaging in activities to improve MCH globally, building on its domestic expertise, and making important contributions to reducing child mortality and morbidity around the world. Most notably, CDC has been involved in a wide range of activities that address the major causes of perinatal, maternal, and under 5 morbidity and mortality. These include direct and indirect causes of maternal mortality, preterm birth complications, PMTCT, congenital syphilis, diarrheal diseases, vaccine preventable diseases, malaria, pneumonia, TB, nutrition, and injury and violence.

CDC’s Global MCH work focuses on four goals:

  1. Reduce Under 5 Morbidity and Mortality
  2. Reduce Perinatal and Maternal Morbidity and Mortality
  3. Strengthen Public Health Systems for MCH
  4. Strengthen Partnerships
  • Page last reviewed: March 5, 2014
  • Page last updated: March 5, 2014
  • Content source: Global Health
  • Notice: Linking to a non-federal site does not constitute an endorsement by HHS, CDC or any of its employees of the sponsors or the information and products presented on the site. The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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