Obesity and smoking linked to stillbirths

According to experts, overweight, smoking and late maternal age older than 35 years have contributed to the thousands of stillborn each year in the developed countries, including Australia. The Lancet medical journal published these data.

A woman smokes a cigarette

A woman smokes a cigarette

It is said in the report that almost 12 % or 8000 stillbirths in the developed countries each year can be related to the mother’s body mass index being more than 25 before conception. Maternal age older than 35 years is considered as a major factor resulting in about 11 % or 4000 cases per year. Smoking of tobacco products is a cause for approximately 3,000 stillbirths each year in the developed countries. The secondhand smoking is also a risk factor for mothers. Other risk factors include first birth and previous cesarean. Many cases are caused by infections, high blood pressure, diabetes and birth defects. The report shows that insufficient care was linked up to 60 per cent of cases. This occurs because of late understanding of the problem and consequences.

Joy Lawn, director of global evidence and policy at Save the Children in South Africa, said that there are so many cases that can be prevented. Lawn added that health policy has led to the problem that stillbirths were not been taken into account of the maternal and child health programs. There are more stillborns rather than a child who died of AIDS and malaria. In developing countries, the majority of stillbirths occur because of complications during childbirth, maternal infection during pregnancy and fetal growth problems. In high-income countries, there is no one reason why stillbirths occur. Observations and autopsy data are dissimilar.

The report on developed countries by Vicki Flenady, Associate Professor from Brisbane’s Mater Medical Research Institute, revealed that smoking, low socio-economic status and ethnicity is as an increased chance of stillbirth. Local Australian women have twice the risk than non-local Australians.

It is written in the report that nearly one-third of stillbirths are unaccountable. It convinces careful investigations in some cases to understand the reasons for preventive measures. It says that since about 58 % of women of childbearing age are currently overweight combination of risk factors may increase the rate of stillbirths in the coming years, despite 40 years of gradual decline in rich countries.

The researches informed that increasing rates of women with a combination of important risk factors, such as primiparity, maternal age over 35 years and high body mass index may result in an increase in the number of stillbirths.

David Ellwood, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Canberra hospital, said that there were about 2.9 stillbirths per 1000 births in Australia born after 28 weeks, which is about 2000 per year or 7 every day. He added that Australia took 15th place in the world by the stillbirth. Finland had the lowest rate of 2 per 1000 births.

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