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66% of worldwide stillbirths occurs in India

April 14, 2011 Leave a comment
Kounteya Sinha, TNN | Apr 14, 2011, 07.04am IST

NEW DELHI: Four lakh fewer children died while still in their mother’s womb in 2009 — in India, Bangladesh and China — as compared to 1995.

However, India is among 10 countries, which, though, contributes 54% of total worldwide births, 66%, or 1.8 million of all stillbirths.

India’s stillbirth — death after 28 weeks’ of gestation — figures have reduced over the past decade. Be that as it may, it’s still shameful — 22 stillbirths per 1,000 births. In some states, it varies from 20 to 66 per 1,000 births.

According to a series on stillbirth, published in “The Lancet” on Wednesday, more than 7, 200 babies are stillborn every day. Around 2.6 million stillbirths occur worldwide each year during the last trimester of pregnancy, and 98% of them occur in low and middle-income countries. High-income countries, too, report stillbirths with one in 320 babies stillborn.

Sadly, the number of stillbirths worldwide has declined by only 1.1% per year — from 3 million (1995) to 2.6 million (2009). The global stillbirth rate, in turn, has reduced from 22 stillbirths per 1,000 to 19.

Dr Monir Islam, World Health Organization’s (WHO) South-East Asia director on family health, said, “Though India has made some progress, what worries me most are the intra-partum deaths (a child being alive all through the nine months inside a mother’s womb but dying during labour). Around 50% of stillbirths are such cases, which is unacceptable.”

WHO says, one in every two stillbirths in developing countries occurs during birth (intra-partum). Worldwide, 1.2 million babies die during labour and most of these are term babies who should survive if born alive and whose deaths are often associated with lack of obstetric care.

“If every woman had access to a skilled birth attendant – a mid-wife and if necessary a physician – for both essential care and for procedures such as emergency caesarean sections, we would see a dramatic decrease in the number of stillbirths,” Dr Carole Presern, director of The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) said.

In India, 60% women have access to skilled care during child birth.

The main causes of stillbirth are childbirth complications, infections during pregnancy, disorders — especially hypertension and diabetes — fetal growth restriction and congenital abnormalities.

Globally, the rate of stillbirths ranges from 2 per 1,000 total births in Finland to more than 47 per 1,000 in Pakistan. The stillbirth rate varies sharply across the world — such as Nigeria (42), Bangladesh (36) and Djibouti and Senegal (34).

In developed nations, risks are clear. Up to 58% of women of childbearing age are overweight or obese, which is a major risk factor for stillbirth. Around half of all pregnant women consume alcohol during pregnancy, raising the risk of stillbirth by 40%. Any smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of stillbirth by 40%.

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