India has world’s highest number of still-births: Lancet

April 14th, 2011 - 8:54 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 14 (IANS) A total of 22 babies were born dead out of every 1,000 births in India in 2009, the highest number of still-births in the world, a study by British journal The Lancet said Thursday.

According to the study, the first to present a comprehensive picture on still-births across the world, the phenomenon remains highly ignored and unaccounted even from the policy framework.

The report said in India, 22 children were born dead among 1,000 births in 2009. This means, 6,06,523 children were born dead in India in 2009. This is slightly lower than 1995, when the rate was 25 per thousand, translating to 7,28,750 still-births.

Globally, over 2.6 million babies were still-born in 2009, which brings the number to 7,000 per day.

It says that 98 percent of the deaths occur in low or middle income countries. Of these, 60 percent (nearly 1.8 million) take place in 10 countries - India, Pakistan, Nigeria, China, Bangladesh, Congo, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Afghanistan and Tanzania.

“Still-births are not properly accounted like infant mortality. Even the Millennium Development Goals do not mention it. Its a highly ignored phenomenon,” said J. Frederik Froen, director of Lancet Stillbirth Series Steering Committee.

“In most countries, the babies are never named, nor dressed and they have no funeral. The body is just disposed off. Mostly, the blame is put on the mother, and evil spirits,” he said.

According to the researchers, the main reasons for still-births are childbirth complications, maternal infections in pregnancy, maternal disorders (especially hypertension and diabetes), foetal growth restriction and congenital abnormalities.

“Every year, the lives of more than 1.7 million women and neo-nates could be saved with interventions that are known to be effective during pregnancy and birth, and more that one million third trimester still-births could be prevented with the same care, providing triple return for every dollar invested,” the study says.

Estimates from over 193 countries were taken in account for the study, according to co-author of the series Rajesh Kumar, a professor in the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research.

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