Stillbirth Risks and Prevention for Developing Countries

In developing countries, stillbirth risks include:

  • poor diet
  • lack of skilled care
  • lack of emergency obstetric care at childbirth

Medical disorders associated with stillbirth in developing countries:

  • infection including malaria and syphilis
  • Pre-eclampsia, asphyxia of baby or obstructed labor
  • Placental abruption

Therefore strategies to prevent stillbirth in developing countries would include:

  • supplying balanced energy protein
  • supplying folic acid
  • detection and treatment or prevention of syphilis and malaria (for example preventing malaria by distribution of bednets)
  • supplying skilled care at birth
  • supplying emergency obstetric care (ambulatory services, outreach workers, C-sections)

Studies show that 99% of the world's stillbirths occur in developing countries. It was estimated that with various interventions the stillbirth rate could be reduced by 45% worldwide with a cost of 9.6 billion USD. This estimate is based on a model of 10 common and available interventions that include: distribution of folic acid; prevention of malaria; detection and treatment of syphilis, hypertension, diabetes, and fetal growth restriction; induction of mothers more than 41 weeks gestation; skilled care at birth; and basic and comprehensive obstetric emergency care. This model does not include solving food shortage crises.

In the world's poorest countries, maternal under-nutrition is a major problem and analysis has shown that balanced energy-protein supplementation was associated with a 45% reduction in stillbirth. The model of 10 interventions mentioned above might prevent stillbirth but that could actually cause problems in some countries unless those interventions are coupled with efforts to solve food shortages. Saving babies who will then die of malnutrition is not a solution. Family planning and contraception also have an important role to play in saving families from the tragedy of stillbirth.