A new study suggests that eliminating maternal mortality, which is defined as the deaths related to pregnancy, would result in a gain of over a half year in life expectancy worldwide.
Over the twentieth century, women's life expectancy in developed countries increased by 0.5 years due to a near elimination of maternal mortality.
In sub-Saharan African countries, the possible achievable gains from eliminating maternal mortality fluctuate between 0.24 and 1.47 years, or 6 percent and 44 percent of potential gains.
"This gain in life expectancy may seem a small increase at a first glance, but the added survival time takes place during the most productive ages of human life and carries with it non-trivial socio-economic implications for families, workforces, and communities," lead author Vladimir Canudas-Romo, said.
The study focuses on women's Reproductive-Age Life Expectancy, which covers the ages of 15 to 49.
While maternal deaths are a rare event, eliminating them yields important benefits, including a significant increase to what many consider the most productive ages of human life.
Another benefit would be improved health care, since one underlying assumption of maternal mortality is that it stems from insufficient health services.
This would be a bonus to continuing along the trajectory of Millennium Development Goal 5, a reduction in maternal mortality of 75 percent by 2015.
The study is published in the journal PLOS ONE.