Background The fifth Millennium Development Goal formulated by the WHO in 2000 aimed to reduce global maternal mortality by 75% in 2015. We studied the extent to which medical research has supported this by studying maternal mortality. We performed a bibliometric analysis of the literature on maternal mortality and of the development of this literature over time. Methods We searched for publications on maternal mortality in the Web of Science database in the period 1994-2013. We visualised the subjects of these publications using a term map showing the most significant terms occurring in the titles and abstracts of publications on maternal mortality. Results We identified 3794 publications on maternal mortality in Web of Science. The annual number increased from 87 in 1994 to 397 in 2013. The largest number of maternal mortality publications was found in the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology, followed by the Public, Environmental, and Occupational Health field (increase from 1994 until 2013 of 300% and 700%, respectively). In both fields, the number of maternal mortality publications has increased at a much higher rate than the overall number of publications in the field. Conclusions In line with the focus of the fifth Millennium Development Goal on reducing maternal mortality, during the past 20 years, there has been a steady increase in the amount of attention paid to maternal mortality in the medical literature. This is largely driven by an increase, mainly in recent years, in public health research on maternal mortality.
- environmental health
- fifth Millennium Development Goal
- maternal mortality