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.
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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."