What does the medical term "stillbirth" relate to?
A stillbirth is typically a birth of an infant that has died in the womb (strictly, after having survived through at least the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, earlier instances being regarded as abortion or miscarriage). Stillbirths cases may be caused by problems with the placenta or umbilical cord; high blood pressure; infections; birth defects; or poor lifestyle choices. There are usually no warnings before a stillbirth. However, few symptoms like vaginal bleeding, especially during the second half of pregnancy, lack of movement or a change in the normal activity level of the baby, could signal a problem. Most stillborn babies can be delivered vaginally after induction of labour, unless there are specific reasons for cesarean delivery.
According to World Health Organization (WHO) there are nearly 2 million stillbirths every year globally, one each in 16 seconds. Over 40 per cent of all stillbirths occur during labour - a loss that could be avoided with improved quality and respectful care during childbirth including routine monitoring and timely access to emergency obstetric care when required.
In 2014, WHO's Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP) includes a global target of 12 or fewer stillbirths per 1000 total births in every country by 2030. Around 84% of all stillbirths occur in low- and lower middle-income countries, however, high rates of stillbirths can also be observed in high-income countries within vulnerable groups and ethnic minorities.