Causes of stillbirths and early neonatal deaths: data from 7993 pregnancies in six developing countries

Bull World Health Organ. 2006 Sep;84(9):699-705. doi: 10.2471/blt.05.027300.


Objective: To report stillbirth and early neonatal mortality and to quantify the relative importance of different primary obstetric causes of perinatal mortality in 171 perinatal deaths from 7993 pregnancies that ended after 28 weeks in nulliparous women.

Methods: A review of all stillbirths and early newborn deaths reported in the WHO calcium supplementation trial for the prevention of pre-eclampsia conducted at seven WHO collaborating centres in Argentina, Egypt, India, Peru, South Africa and Viet Nam. We used the Baird-Pattinson system to assign primary obstetric causes of death and classified causes of early neonatal death using the International classification of diseases and related health problems, Tenth revision (ICD-10).

Findings: Stillbirth rate was 12.5 per 1000 births and early neonatal mortality rate was 9.0 per 1000 live births. Spontaneous preterm delivery and hypertensive disorders were the most common obstetric events leading to perinatal deaths (28.7% and 23.6%, respectively). Prematurity was the main cause of early neonatal deaths (62%).

Conclusions: Advancements in the care of premature infants and prevention of spontaneous preterm labour and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy could lead to a substantial decrease in perinatal mortality in hospital settings in developing countries.

MeSH terms

  • Argentina / epidemiology
  • Calcium, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Cause of Death
  • Developing Countries / statistics & numerical data*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Egypt / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Infant Mortality*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Peru / epidemiology
  • Pre-Eclampsia / mortality
  • Pre-Eclampsia / prevention & control
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth / mortality
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Assessment
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • Stillbirth / epidemiology*
  • Vietnam / epidemiology


  • Calcium, Dietary