Data source: WHO
Map created by CUHK SpatioEpi Group
In contrast with the joy of childbirth, an estimated 2.6 million babies in 2009 were stillborn worldwide. As indicated by the cross symbols in the map, most of the stillbirths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. More than half of the stillborn babies came from India, Pakistan, Nigeria, China and Bangladesh.
Illustrated by graduated colours, the proportion of births attended by a skilled health worker was generally low in countries with high number of stillbirths. Skilled birth attendants provide essential care during delivery, leading to a reduction of both maternal deaths and stillbirths. According to World Health Organization, about 700,000 stillbirths worldwide could be averted each year if emergency obstetric care were available.
Data for the map were obtained from World Health Organization.
For international comparison, World Health Organization defined stillbirths as foetal death after 28 weeks' gestation. Common causes of stillbirth are childbirth complications, maternal infections in pregnancy, maternal disorders, foetal growth restriction and congenital abnormalities.
Apart from comprehensive emergency obstetric care, stillbirths could be further minimized by other interventions such as syphilis treatment, malaria prevention and management of diabetes in pregnancy. Improvement in access to family planning and antenatal care could also reduce the number of stillborn babies.
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