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According to a series of papers published in the Lancet medical journal, more than 7,600 stillbirths occur in the world daily. Researchers estimate 2.1-3.8 million stillbirths occur annually worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a stillborn birth is defined as a baby who dies during the third trimester or after the 28th week.
The researchers also estimated that approximately half of the stillborn births could be prevented if mothers had better health care.
The Lancet reported the main causes of stillborn births are due to delivery complications as well as infections which occur during pregnancy. Those types of infections include syphilis, high blood pressure and diabetes. Also, fetal growth restriction was also determined to be a complication. Fetal growth restriction is when the baby has birth defects or does not reach growth targets.
For example, in the U.S. the stillbirth rate is six per 1,000 births. However, the rate doubles for African Americans. According to the Lancet, researchers stated more than two-thirds of stillbirths occur in rural families where access to prenatal and obstetric care is limited.
Experts agree stillbirths in wealthier countries have not decreased at a proportionate rate to medical advancements. This may be due to the increase of obesity levels.
Medical experts said providing better obstetric care could save half of the stillborn births.
In an article in the Los Angeles Times, researchers said at a cost of $2.32 per person in the countries with the highest stillborn rates, it may help reduce the rate by more than 45 percent.
In a statement, Gary Darmstadt of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said it wouldn't cost much to prevent many stillbirths. "If all we did was to provide good-quality care during childbirth, at a cost of less than $1 per head, we could avert 1.4 million deaths of mothers, (babies) and stillbirths," he wrote.
More than 98 percent of stillborn births occur in middle and low-income countries. Sixty-six percent of the stillborn births occur in the following countries:
• Democratic Republic of Congo