NEW DELHI: According to a recent report, India was found to have the highest of number of stillbirths among 195 countries. The top countries with a high number of stillbirths include Nigeria, Pakistan, China and Ethiopia.There were reportedly 5,92,090 stillbirths in the past year in India. The data was compiled by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine with the World Health Organisation and UNICEF.
Representational image: A stillbirth is a baby born dead after 24 completed weeks of pregnancy. If the baby dies before 24 completed weeks, it’s known as a miscarriage or late foetal loss. Stillbirth is more common than many people think in India.
When a foetus dies after 28 weeks of gestation it is referred to as stillbirth. The data revealed that the lowest rates were found in Iceland (1.3), Denmark (1.7), Finland (1.7) and the Netherlands (1.8). India ranked 157 on the list of 195 countries. The data showed that the estimated rate of stillbirth for India was 23.0 per 1,000 total births in 2015.
While progress has been made in healthcare, stillbirths continue to be a neglected area globally. The study states, “Despite significant reductions in the number of maternal and child deaths, there has been little change in the number of stillbirths (in the third trimester of pregnancy) even though the majority are preventable. Half of all stillbirths occur during labour and birth, usually after a full nine-month pregnancy, and the research highlights that most of these 1.3 million deaths could be prevented with improved quality of care. Globally, 98% of all stillbirths occur in low-and middle-income countries.”
The Lancet journal has also published a series of articles titled “Ending Preventable Stillbirth”. This states that the annual rate of reduction for stillbirths is 2.0%. This happens to be slower than the progress which has been made for maternal deaths (3.0%) and child deaths (4.5%). The study adds, “It also reveals the hidden consequences of stillbirth, with more than 4.2 million women living with symptoms of depression, often for years, in addition to economic loss for families and nations. The economic impact of stillbirth for families ranges from funeral costs for their baby to loss of earnings due to time off work, with data suggesting that 10% of bereaved parents remain off work for six months. The direct financial cost of stillbirth care is 10-70% greater than for a live birth, with additional costs to governments due to reduced productivity of grieving parents and increased welfare costs.”
The report also states that an estimated 2.6 million third trimester stillbirths occurred in 2015 across the world with 98% occurring in low and middle-income countries.