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Study Shows That More Than 3 Million Stillbirths Occur Worldwide Every Year

International researchers have found, that stillbirths that are not generally included in the worldwide infant mortality statistics, could account for 3.2 million or more additional deaths each year. // Stillbirths are defined as delivery of a dead infant in the last 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Joy E. Lawn, M.D., of the Medical Research Council of South Africa here, and his colleagues said that their estimates suggests that more than 3.2 million babies are born dead every year, and the true figure would probably be higher if not for the limitations of the available data and the fact that stillbirths are many a times underreported.

The authors wrote in an early online release from the May 6 issue of The Lancet, that the explanation of the data could mean that the uncertainty intervals are enormous, ranging from 2.5 to 4.1 million. The researchers said that it is important to have better counting, as not only was it important for the epidemology but for also the prevention as they felt that deaths of most of the babies are avoidable. They explained their point by showing evidence of low stillbirth rates of four per thousand as seen in rich countries as compared to rates of 40 per 1000 or much higher in poorer countries where the health systems were also poor.

The authors explained that stillbirths are not counted in WHO, mortality statistics, and are not reported in most population based surveillance studies, but they felt that such data were essential for improving health care for women and children in the developing world. To get a rough idea of the magnitude of the problem, they looked at three different sources of information: vital records (births, deaths), demographic and health surveys (including information on contraception and pregnancy) from women in 16 countries, and from published studies.

They used these data’s to create a statistical model of stillbirth rates and associated uncertainty intervals (margins of erro
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