Stillbirth in Greece during the years of economic crisis: a population-based study

Eur J Pediatr. 2020 Jul;179(7):1157-1166. doi: 10.1007/s00431-020-03588-6. Epub 2020 Feb 15.


The recent economic crisis has been linked with declines in population health. Evidence on the impact of the crisis on stillbirth rates is scarce. The aim of this study was to assess trends of stillbirth rates in Greece during the pre-crisis (2004-2008) and crisis period (2009-2015) and explore risk factors. Nationwide data (n = 1,276,816 births; 5023 stillbirths) were used to assess rates and trends through Poisson and joinpoint regressions. Multivariable Poisson regressions by nationality were fitted. The overall annual stillbirth rate was 3.9/1000 births with higher rates among non-Greeks (5.0/1000) than Greeks (3.7/1000). Non-significant decreasing trends were noted for Greeks (- 0.5%, 95% confidence interval [CI] - 1.4, 0.4%) versus non-significant increasing trends in non-Greeks (1.4%, 95% CI - 0.5, 3.3%). After adjusting for possible confounders, the relative stillbirth risk (RR) increased during the crisis versus the pre-crisis period (RRGreeks 1.61, 95% CI 1.50, 1.74; RRnon-Greeks 1.92, 95% CI 1.64, 2.26). Multiplicity, birth order, birth size, maternal education, marital status, and parental age were risk factors.Conclusions: Bidirectional stillbirth trends were observed among Greeks and non-Greeks, whereas the RR increased by 2-fold during the crisis. Persisting disparities require tailored employment of preventive measures ensuring optimal quality of the child's and maternal health.What is Known:• Stillbirth rate is a key population health indicator reflecting economic development and health care services within a population.• The recent economic crisis has been linked with declines in population health.What is New:• Economic crisis, ethnic minorities, and several modifiable factors seem to be significant determinants of stillbirth risk.

Keywords: Economic crisis; Joinpoint regression; Neonates; Risk factor; Stillbirth; Time trends.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Economic Recession*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Greece / epidemiology
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Pregnancy
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Stillbirth / economics*
  • Stillbirth / epidemiology*