Maternal death was a common tragedy long ago. In ancient times, maternal mortality rates were particularly high and generally related to complications during delivery. Nearly one in every 100 live births resulted in a mother's death during delivery as recently as 90 years ago. Experts say obesity and giving birth in late 30s and 40s, increases the risk of maternal deaths. Death from childbirth remains fairly rare in the United States now and the rate of the maternal death in childbirth has plummeted in the 20th century worldwide.