Living Up to the Call of "Women and Children First"

By: Peter Hero on 07/16/15

When an ocean liner is facing impending disaster at sea, invariably the cry goes up, "Women and children first!"

But sadly when it comes to women's health and birthing, we find that significant new medical innovation aimed at them is historically underdeveloped and underfunded. This is despite the fact that medical innovation can, and has, revolutionized patient care across the world.

Innovation Makes Advances Every Day, But More is Needed

A recent Economist article, "Exceptionally deadly," states that over the past quarter of a century, America's maternal-mortality rate has been, surprisingly, creeping back up, though medical innovation is helping stem the trend. The article points out that California, where one out of eight American births take place, is leading the way in reversing maternal mortality. A 2007 study of the state's maternal deaths found that more than 40 percent were avoidable. In response, state agencies, hospitals, doctors and midwives came up with new ways to manage obstetric hemorrhage and pre-eclampsia, the two leading preventable causes of maternal death. California introduced these plans in 2010, and the state's maternal-mortality rate has since plummeted to over six deaths per 100,000 pregnancies, from nearly 17 in 2006.

Despite these advances, more can be done and the need is still great. Life-threatening risks continue to be associated with maternity and delivery, and the results are catastrophic and costly: studies have shown that every day more than three million babies die on the day they draw their first breath. And every four minutes, one woman dies somewhere in the world from postpartum hemorrhage.

Filling A Need

Here at the Institute we have been humbled and challenged by these statistics that we see, both in our backyard and around the world. So perhaps it comes as no surprise that more than half of our early-stage companies are creating highly innovative devices to meet these needs. Each of our startups are pursuing a new approach to serious medical problems that affect neonates, mothers, aging women and breast cancer patients. Their technologies are reshaping healthcare and will help save and/or improve millions of lives.

And this is just the beginning. We need more startups focused in this field to help solve these critical, and often preventable, global health issues.

You Can Help

We invite you to join us and learn more about how you can get involved to make a difference and truly live up to the charge of "women and children first." I invite you to visit us here at the Institute to meet our young innovators and see firsthand the important, life-changing work they are doing. Please reach out at 650-962-4549 or email We await your call and your support to improve the lives and safety of women and children both here and around the globe.

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