Objective: To determine population-based stillbirth rates and to determine whether the timing and maturity of the stillbirths suggest a high proportion of potentially preventable deaths.
Design: Prospective observational study.
Setting: Communities in six low-income countries (Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Zambia, Guatemala, India, and Pakistan) and one site in a mid-income country (Argentina).
Population: Pregnant women residing in the study communities.
Methods: Over a five-year period, in selected catchment areas, using multiple methodologies, trained study staff obtained pregnancy outcomes on each delivery in their area.
Main outcome measures: Pregnancy outcome, stillbirth characteristics.
Results: Outcomes of 195,400 deliveries were included. Stillbirth rates ranged from 32 per 1,000 in Pakistan to 8 per 1,000 births in Argentina. Three-fourths (76%) of stillbirth offspring were not macerated, 63% were ≥ 37 weeks and 48% weighed 2,500 g or more. Across all sites, women with no education, of high and low parity, of older age, and without access to antenatal care were at significantly greater risk for stillbirth (p<0.001). Compared to those delivered by a physician, women delivered by nurses and traditional birth attendants had a lower risk of stillbirth.
Conclusions: In these low-middle income countries, most stillbirth offspring were not macerated, were reported as ≥ 37 weeks' gestation, and almost half weighed at least 2,500 g. With access to better medical care, especially in the intrapartum period, many of these stillbirths could likely be prevented.
© 2011 Nordic Federation of Societies of Obstetrics and Gynecology No claim to original US government works.