News / Health

2.6 Million Babies Stillborn Worldwide

Pregnant women watch television as they wait in the prenatal ward at Princess Christian Maternity Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone (2010 File)
Pregnant women watch television as they wait in the prenatal ward at Princess Christian Maternity Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone (2010 File)

The World Health Organization estimates some 2.6 million stillbirths occurred worldwide in 2009, the overwhelming majority in developing countries.  This first comprehensive set of estimates appears as part of a series of articles on stillbirths published in the British medical journal, The Lancet.

Every day, the World Health Organization reports more than 7,200 babies are stillborn - ninety-eight percent of them occur in low and middle-income countries.  But, WHO notes, high-income countries are not immune, with one in 320 babies stillborn.  WHO says this rate has changed little in the past decade.

The lowest rates of stillbirth, two per 1,000 live births, are in Finland, followed by Singapore, Denmark and Norway.  The highest rates, 47 per 1000, are in Pakistan followed by Nigeria, Bangladesh, Djibouti and Senegal.

The data show about two-thirds or 1.8 million stillbirths occur in just 10 countries.  The highest numbers are found in sub-Saharan Africa and in Southeast Asia.  

The new estimates show the number of stillbirths worldwide has declined by just over one percent per year, from three million in 1995 to 2.6 million in 2009.   This is even slower than reductions for both maternal and child mortality in the same period.

Catherine d’Arcangues of WHO’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research says the causes are many.

"There are definitely causes during childbirth, such as obstructed labor.  There are causes due to infections in pregnancy," she said. For example, it is quite a shame to think there are two million cases of congenital syphilis a year, a disease, which really should be eradicated…Other infections such as malaria, HIV also induce stillbirth. We also know that with advancing age, mothers tend to experience most stillbirth and also with their first child."

D’Arcangues notes almost half of all stillbirths happen when the woman is in labor.  She says these 1.2 million deaths are directly related to the lack of skilled care at this critical time.

Department Director of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Frederik Froen, says many stillbirths go unrecorded, so they are not seen as a major public health problem.  

He says the vast majority of these stillbirths are not given a name.  They are not held or dressed by the mother.  They do not have a funeral.  He says they are disposed of in the simplest possible way.

"That invisibility at the personal level is also seen for the mothers," he said.  "A large proportion of them are marginalized and there is significant stigma associated to having a stillbirth.  One out of four stillbirths around the globe are thought to be - thought by community to be caused by the mother’s own sins by witchcraft and evil spirits.  And, in sub-Saharan Africa, evil spirits and maternal sins are equally seen as causes as medical causes are."

The World Health Organization says there are a number of well-known interventions that, if universally applied, could avert more than one million stillbirths.

These include comprehensive emergency obstetric care, detection and treatment of syphilis, malaria prevention, detection and management of fetal growth restriction, of hypertension and diabetes during pregnancy.

WHO says strengthening family planning services also would save lives by reducing the numbers of unintended pregnancies.


You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid