China’s maternal mortality rate has increased by 30.6 per cent in the first half of 2016, according to Chinese news outlet Caixin. China’s one-child policy was relaxed to allow couples to have two children at the beginning of the year.

The mortality rate was 18.3 deaths per 100,000 expecting women in the first half of 2016, according to government data that was independently verified by Caixin.

Duan Tao, the warden of the Shanghai First Maternity and Infant Hospital, told the news outlet that because obstetricians are not highly paid and face a high workload and high risk, few will choose the job. It is difficult to suddenly increase the number of qualified obstetricians shortly after the relaxation of the one-child policy, he said.

Shanghai First Maternity and Infant Hospital. Photo:

According to Caixin, an obstetrician previously said that the policy should not have anything to do with the increased mortality rate because it takes 266 days from conception to birth, and the policy was implemented at the beginning of the year.

In response, Duan told the media outlet that there are many reasons why pregnant women may die, but the number, which has been decreasing for the last few years, rose 30.6 per cent when compared to the first half of 2015.

China announced the relaxation of the policy in October.

Photo: Joan Vila via Flickr.

It is very difficult to say that the increase in deaths have nothing to do with the two-child policy, Duan said. Mothers above the age of 35 or mothers who are having a caesarean section also face higher risks, he added.

Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.