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Balancing The Scales: Expanding Treatment For Pregnant Women With Life-Threatening Hypertensive Conditions In Developing Countries

Engender Health, 2007

Giving birth should be a time for celebration, but for more than half a million women each year—or one woman every minute—pregnancy and childbirth end in death and mourning. Ninety-nine percent of these deaths occur in the developing world, and tragically, most of these deaths are preventable.
Pre-eclampsia/eclampsia ranks second only to hemorrhage as a specific, direct cause of maternal death. In some countries, such as Mexico, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia is the number one killer. The risks that a woman faces vary greatly depending on where she lives: The risk that a woman in a developing country will die of pre-eclampsia/eclampsia is approximately 300 times higher than that for a woman in a developed country. While the use of magnesium sulfate has become the mainstay of treatment of pre-eclampsia and eclampsia in the vast majority of developed countries, medications such as diazepam and phenytoin (used in the treatment of other types of seizures, including epilepsy) have become more widely used in most other parts of the world.

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