Globally, an estimated 1,000 women die every day from pregnancy and childbirth complications — the majority of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Both of these regions have a disproportionally high burden of diseases known as neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). While NTDs affect men, women, and children, one NTD in particular, hookworm, has devastating effects for pregnant women.
Hookworm is an intestinal parasitic infection causes severe blood loss, anemia, and malnutrition. These effects are particularly harmful to pregnant women and their unborn children: long-term blood loss from hookworms increases a mother’s risk of dying during childbirth. While hemorrhaging during pregnancy is not uncommon, African women are more likely to die from it because they are severely anemic even before they begin labor. Hemorrhage accounts for roughly one third of the pregnancy-related deaths in Africa.