Study: 2 million babies stillborn every year

AP, Monday 18 Apr 2011

More than 2 million babies are stillborn every year worldwide and about half could be saved if their mothers had better medical care

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While the vast majority of stillbirths happen in the developing world, the rates in countries including Britain, France and the U.S. have not dropped to the degree that many experts had expected, as rising obesity levels among pregnant women increase the risk.

Experts say providing better obstetric care, treating conditions like syphilis, high blood pressure and diabetes in mothers, among other strategies, could save more than 1 million infants every year. The research was paid for by organizations including Save the Children, the World Health Organization and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

In developing countries, most stillbirths are caused by delivery complications, maternal infections in pregnancy, fetal growth problems and congenital abnormalities. In developed countries, the reasons are often unclear why stillbirths occur, and surveillance and autopsy data are patchy.

Finland and Singapore had the lowest stillbirth rates worldwide - two per 1,000 births - while Nigeria and Pakistan were at the bottom of the list, with 42 and 47 stillbirths, respectively, per 1,000 births. In the U.S., there were six per 1,000 births, though the rate is nearly double for African-American mothers.

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