The death of a mother during or just after childbirth, like that of Arizona Treasurer Dean Martin's wife, Kerry, is a relatively rare occurence these days, compared to most of human history. Still, the problem remains "significant," says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The United States had an estimated rate of 12.1 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2007, says the CDC. Compare that to 1915, when the country experienced a rate of 608 maternal deaths per 100,000 births. A Wikipedia article on the subject states that, historically speaking, about one mother died for every 100 children born.
Statistics from the Arizona Department of Health Services show Arizona has a below-normal rate of maternal deaths. The department crunched 10 years worth of numbers a couple of years ago and found the state had a maternal death rate of 9.8 per 100,000.
In a statement issued this afternoon, Governor Jan Brewer called Kerry Martin an "eternally optimistic young lady."