Two million babies are stillborn every year around the world, which is one every 16 seconds. It is an “unknown tragedy” on which a UN report has focused on Thursday that warns that the situation may worsen with the coronavirus pandemic. According to data from the report, in which UNICEF, the World Bank and the WHO have participated, this figure represents more than 2% of births for 27 countries, and 1.4% of registered births globally.
In this report, in order to be able to compare the data between countries, the deaths registered after 28 weeks of gestation, that is, the third trimester of pregnancy, are counted. The call stillbirth (stillbirth) refers to the death of a viable fetus, which can occur during pregnancy or delivery.
Even so, slow progress has been detected since 2000, in which almost 3 million babies were born without life, according to the first report prepared by the organizations on the subject. In the last 20 years, these deaths have fallen by 2.3% per year, the neonatal mortality of infants less than one month old has decreased by 2.9% each year and that of children under five years by 4.3%.
The lack of “investments in services “that undertake the monitoring of pregnancy and delivery, and “reinforcement of nurses and midwives” are one of the main drawbacks to improve the situation, according to the report. Henrietta Fore, general director of Unicef, declares that “beyond the lives lost, the psychological and financial consequences they are serious and long-lasting for women, families and society. “
With 84% of the cases, poor countries are the most affected, especially the Sub-saharan africa and the Southeast Asia, which group three-quarters of the events.
Emergency cesarean section
On average, the 40% of deaths occur during childbirthThis figure increases to almost 50% in sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia and falls to 6% in Europe and North America.
Henrietta Fore emphasizes that these deaths are not inevitable, since they can be prevented “with a quality surveillance, with adapted prenatal care and with qualified personnel”. The causes of deaths can be attributed to problems of the mother such as hypertension, diabetes, infectious diseases, bleeding, or to the excess of the pregnancy period, to a knot in the umbilical cord or to a serious malformation of the fetus.
The possibility of realizing an emergency cesarean section can decide the fate of a fetus in distressWhile monitoring for hypertension during pregnancy, preventing malaria, and diagnosing syphilis can mean the difference between life and death.
However, the report indicates that the current health crisis of covid-19 could aggravate the situation. Some of the reasons are the “massive increase in poverty that has caused the global recession”, and the “interruption of health services”, either due to the relocation of professionals to treat Covid-19 patients or due to the excessive fear that the population has of being infected in a medical center, explains Mark Hereward, Unicef deputy director in charge of statistics.
The current balance could thus worsen with more than 200,000 additional cases in a 12-month period if at least 50% of health services are not guaranteed.