NYTimes article: Maternal Deaths Decline Sharply Across the Globe:

For the first time in decades, researchers are reporting a significant drop worldwide in the number of women dying each year from pregnancy and childbirth, to about 342,900 in 2008 from 526,300 in 1980.

The story comes from a study by a team of researchers and was published in the medical journal The Lancet: “Maternal mortality for 181 countries, 1980—2008: a systematic analysis of progress towards Millennium Development Goal 5.”