Half of All Stillbirths Around the World Could be Prevented

Added by on April 16, 2011

About half of the two million babies who are stillborn every year could be saved by improving the medical care offered to expectant mothers, a study says.

Half of All Stillbirths Around the World Could be Prevented

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The research, published in the Lancet medical journal, suggests that in providing better obstetric care and by treating conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes and syphilis, more than one million infants could be saved every year.

“It’s a scandal there are so many stillbirths that can be prevented,” Joy Lawn, director of global evidence and policy at Save the Children in South Africa, said. She added that stillbirths have not received priority in public health, despite there being “more stillbirths than children killed by AIDS and malaria combined”.

The majority of stillbirths take place in the developing world, where lack of health care remains a big problem, but even in industrialised countries such as Britain, France and the US, rates have not dropped as expected, mainly due to increasing obesity among pregnant women.

Other risk factors in developed countries, apart from belonging to a lower socio-economic group, include being over 35 years of age, alcohol and drug abuse, smoking, teenage pregnancy and multiple pregnancies.

William Easterly, an aid development expert at New York University, said that the study was based on numbers that in turn are based on too little information, making the results unreliable.

While Easterly said “It’s basically made-up data” that could distort public health policy, he also concluded that he is glad stillbirths has made it onto the global agenda.

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