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Stillbirth much more common in lower socio-economic families

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Posted January 21, 2016

Stillbirth is a tremendous tragedy for every family. However, now scientists from the University of Adelaide say that some families have a higher risk of delivering a stillborn baby. New study revealed that women with lower socio-economic status are even twice as likely to deliver a stillborn baby as women from wealthier families. This gap between rich and poor families is causing many preventable deaths.

Pregnancy is usually very happy news. However, not all babies are delivered healthy – rate of stillbirth is twice as high in poor families as in wealthier ones. Image credit: Dennis Jarvis via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 2.0

Pregnancy is usually very happy news. However, not all babies are delivered healthy – rate of stillbirth is twice as high in poor families as in wealthier ones. Image credit: Dennis Jarvis via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 2.0

One of the solutions to at least partially reduce amount of stillborn babies in the families with lower socio-economic situation is education. Scientists say that health care providers should also be more informed about this situation and should pay better attention to the health of pregnant women from poorer families.

Professor Philippa Middleton, one of the authors of the study, explained: “Factors such as smoking, obesity, type 2 diabetes, illicit drug use, poor maternal metal health and infection can all be associated with having a stillborn baby and each of these risk factors is more common among poorer women”.

Many of these deaths of unborn babies in disadvantaged families could be prevented. Scientists say that one of the reasons why rate of stillbirths is twice as high in poorer families as in wealthier ones is that women with lower socio-economic situation usually receive less adequate antenatal care, which is crucial for identifying risks throughout the time of pregnancy. Other steps at reducing deaths of unborn babies are education and elevation of poverty, but scientists say that it is also important to introduce national audits for perinatal death in order to investigate each case separately and to understand causes of death better.

Although researchers note that stillbirths are still a bigger problem in low- and middle-income countries, even the most developed countries, such as Australia itself, face a major burden on health care systems as well. Furthermore, better care after the stillbirth for the families is needed in order to reduce negative psychological and social consequences.

Scientists say that a further research is needed to develop better methods to investigate causes of stillbirth and to predict risks better. Furthermore, some of the causes should be addressed as well – strategies are needed to reduce smoking and obesity. Stillborn baby is a huge tragedy for the family and understanding causes better should help reduce the rate of stillbirth. We can only hope that researches like this will help avoiding most of such cases in the near future.

Source: adelaide.edu.au

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