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Number of Worldwide Stillbirths Remains High

A story on the website Philly.com reports that, according to British researchers, more than 2.6.million stillbirths continue to occur worldwide every year.  This number breaks down to an astonishing 7,200 deaths each day.  Half of these deaths happen during the birth process, and 98 percent occur in low and middle-income countries.

The researchers note that there has been little decline in the numbers in the past decade, but statistics show improvement in other areas between 2000 and 2015:

  • maternal deaths declined by 3 percent;
  • newborn deaths declined by 3.1 percent; and
  • deaths among children younger than five declined by 4.5 percent.

Stillbirth rates vary widely by world region, with sub-Saharan Africa displaying the highest rate of deaths and slowest improvement.  In developed countries where wide gaps separate richer and poorer citizens, such as Iceland and Ukraine, poorer women have roughly double the risk of stillbirth compared to women who enjoy better financial conditions.

Researchers note that many of the causes of stillbirths internationally are preventable, and include:

  • malarial infections (8%);
  • syphilis infections (8%); and
  • maternal nutrition (10%).

Poor care was relevant in up to 30 percent of stillbirths in developed countries.  A separate study reveals that nearly half of stillbirths that happen during delivery can be prevented by improving the quality of care and identifying high risk pregnancies earlier.  The study’s authors call for a systemic approach to identifying the causes of stillbirth, and argue that it is of critical importance to increase the number of pregnant women with a healthy body weight.

Stillbirths in the U.S.

According to the March of Dimes, stillbirths are rare in the U.S., befalling only one percent of pregnancies, or roughly 23,600 births each year.  Most women who become pregnant again following a stillbirth can have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Although often the cause of a stillbirth is not known, the March of Dimes’ list of potential causes includes the following:

  • Infections in the mother, baby, or placenta, including cytomegalovirus, Fifth disease, listeriosis, toxoplasmosis, and genital or urinary tract infections.
  • Complications during pregnancy, including diabetes, high blood pressure, lupus, obesity, preeclampsia, preterm labor, trauma or injuries, and thyroid disorders.
  • Conditions in the baby, including birth defects, fetal growth restriction, not getting enough oxygen during labor and delivery, and Rh disease.
  • Problems with the placenta, including placental abruption (when the placenta detaches from the uterine wall before birth), blood clots and inflammation.  Placental problems, which are more likely in women who smoke or use cocaine during pregnancy, account for 24 percent of stillbirths.
  • Problems with the umbilical cord, such as a knot in the cord.  Umbilical cord complications account for 10 percent of stillbirths.

What to do if you have experienced a stillbirth

Stillbirths and other birth injuries are tragedies that sadly take place all too often.  If you have experienced a stillbirth that you believe resulted from medical negligence or malpractice, contact the experienced Philadelphia birth injury attorneys of Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., today. You can reach our offices today by calling (215) 567-3500, or via our online contact form.

 

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