In the News

Vast Majority of Stillbirths Found in Developing Countries

  • 21 April 2011

UNITED NATIONS -- According to a special series in the medical journal The Lancet presented yesterday, over 2.6 million stillbirths occur worldwide annually, affecting mostly African and Asian women who lack proper access to health care and facilities.

"We need to be more aware," Dr. Ruth Fretts, a stillbirth expert and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, told IPS. "We need to review all stillbirths systematically so that we can develop strategies for prevention. Stillbirths are a great burden to women, and are life-changing events."

Fretts added that lack of awareness and health access, affecting mostly pregnant women in developing countries, hamper attempts to reduce stillbirth - the death of a baby at 28 weeks' gestation or more - in many cases, is causing maternal deaths.

"Develn from low and middle-income countries are 24 times more likely to have a stillbirth at the time of delivery than women in high-income countries. The five oping countries in general have limited resources for the care of women and 27 per cent of stillbirths occur in labour. Improved antenatal [care], proper access to antibiotics and timely caesarean section could make a significant reduction in stillbirths," she said. According to the series, womemain causes of stillbirths are childbirth complications, maternal infections in pregnancy, maternal disorders, fetal growth restriction and congenital abnormalities - most of which could be prevented by empowering women around the world with the right interventions.

Most cases happen in rural areas, where skilled birth attendants, in particular midwives and physicians, are not always available for essential care during childbirth and for obstetric emergencies, including caesarean sections.

Read the full story by Aline Cunico at IPS

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