Most of the stillbirths are ‘preventable’

Over 3,000 lives are lost to stillbirth a day across the world – most of which are preventable, according to studies published by The Lancet.

Two-thirds of last year’s 2.6 million stillbirths were in Africa.

Half of stillbirths happen during labour as a result of preventable conditions, notably syphilis and malaria, they add.

The studies argue stillbirths are preventable through high-quality antenatal care.

The studies say there is a widespread belief that stillbirths are due to birth defects and are unavoidable.

However, it points out that this only accounts for 7.3% of stillbirths after 28 weeks.

They ranked the three countries with the highest rates of still births as Pakistan, followed by Nigeria and Chad.

A notable exception is Rwanda, which the studies point out was able to reduce the number of stillbirths.

An estimated 2.6 million stillbirths occur annually

98% occur in low-income and middle-income countries

75% are in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia

More than half occur in conflict or emergency zones

Half of all stillbirths (1.3 million) occur during labour and birth

In sub-Saharan Africa, two-thirds of stillbirths are in rural areas

More than 40 million women give birth unattended at home each year

At present rates of progress, it will be 160 years until a woman in Africa will have the same chance of her baby being born alive as a woman in a high-income country

Source: BBC News ; The The Lancet

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