Background Perinatal and maternal mortality have fallen over the last century and now appear minor compared with many other risks. However, the risks of childbirth are concentrated around the day of delivery and occur early in life.
Aims To display the risk of baby or mother death during childbirth, compared with the daily risk of death at other ages, as well as some potentially hazardous activities on a common scale of risks per day.
Methods Published data sources were used to recalculate the risks of dying per day.
Main results The risk of dying on the day of birth (0.6 per thousand) exceeds any other day of your life until age 94. It exceeds the risks of most common operations, e.g. cosmetic surgery (0.0027), hysterectomy (0.04), and is of the same order of magnitude as coronary artery bypass graph (1), resident of death row in the US (0.045), being killed in 9/11 as a resident of New York City (0.65), climbing Everest (2.1). When the risks are expressed as life years lost, the day of birth appears even more dangerous because it is early.
Conclusion The lifetime risks of death in childbirth are low, but as they are concentrated in a short period occurring early in life. The resulting deprivation is that of many life years lost. On the day, being born remains a high risk activity. Its amelioration should remain a priority.
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