Stillbirths: recall to action in high-income countries

Lancet. 2016 Feb 13;387(10019):691-702. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(15)01020-X. Epub 2016 Jan 19.


Variation in stillbirth rates across high-income countries and large equity gaps within high-income countries persist. If all high-income countries achieved stillbirth rates equal to the best performing countries, 19,439 late gestation (28 weeks or more) stillbirths could have been avoided in 2015. The proportion of unexplained stillbirths is high and can be addressed through improvements in data collection, investigation, and classification, and with a better understanding of causal pathways. Substandard care contributes to 20-30% of all stillbirths and the contribution is even higher for late gestation intrapartum stillbirths. National perinatal mortality audit programmes need to be implemented in all high-income countries. The need to reduce stigma and fatalism related to stillbirth and to improve bereavement care are also clear, persisting priorities for action. In high-income countries, a woman living under adverse socioeconomic circumstances has twice the risk of having a stillborn child when compared to her more advantaged counterparts. Programmes at community and country level need to improve health in disadvantaged families to address these inequities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Data Accuracy
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards
  • Developed Countries / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Global Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Policy
  • Healthcare Disparities / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospice Care / standards
  • Humans
  • Income
  • International Cooperation
  • Perinatal Mortality
  • Postnatal Care / standards
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care / standards
  • Risk Factors
  • Stereotyping
  • Stillbirth / epidemiology*
  • Stillbirth / psychology