The number of maternal deaths in Hong Kong, one of the lowest in the world, will rise gradually as more mainlanders give birth in the city, doctors warn. According to government statistics, the number of babies born to mainland women in Hong Kong increased fivefold in the past decade, from 7,180 in 1999 to 37,253 last year. Babies born to mainlanders represented 45.4 per cent of last year's total, up from 14 per cent 10 years ago. While the average number of maternal deaths in Hong Kong now remains at one to two a year, the number of severe complications cases is rising.. The number of maternal deaths or serious injuries reported by private hospitals to the Department of Health rose from two in 2007 to eight in 2008 and 12 last year. The number of newborn deaths and serious injuries was 14 in 2007, four in 2008 and jumped to 19 last year. Private Hospital's Association president Dr Alan Lau Kwok-lam said pre-natal check-ups were essential for doctors to assess the risk of a delivery. Lau, an obstetrician and gynaecologist, warned that maternal deaths could rise with the influx of mainlanders to give birth because Hong Kong doctors knew little about their medical situations. 'For those who come for a delivery in Hong Kong, they must at least have one check-up here when they get a certificate of booking. We strongly advise a second check-up, but hospitals do not know how many mainland mothers actually have the second consultation in Hong Kong,' he said. 'Some mainland mothers have completely different lifestyles compared with Hong Kong mothers. For example, some mainland women used to take Chinese herbal medicine that may make blood clotting difficult during an operation, but they are not aware of the risk. And mainland women usually have fewer check-ups,' Lau said. According to Hong Kong medical practice, mothers have a monthly check-up before the 24th week of pregnancy, than bi-weekly check-ups to the 36th week. From 36 weeks mothers are advised to see a doctor every week. At St Paul Hospital in Causeway Bay yesterday, a Beijing mother who had just given birth said she had not heard about maternal deaths involving mainland mothers. The woman had only two pre-natal checks in Hong Kong, the first when she came for registration and the second when she returned for the delivery. In Beijing, she underwent prenatal check every 15 days. 'I think everything will be safe, Hong Kong medical services are very good,' the woman said.