August 18, 2016
Written by World Health Organization
This study originally appeared on WHO’s website.
Pregnancy is a time of great anticipation for all expectant parents and their families as they envision getting to know and love a healthy baby. The presence of a long-desired baby in a woman’s womb is accompanied by thoughts and dreams about what the child will look like and how his or her future will be. Experiencing a stillbirth or the death of a baby in the final stages of pregnancy, during labour or soon after delivery is a silent tragedy for mothers, fathers and families globally.
The day of birth is potentially the most dangerous day for both mothers and their babies. Significant reductions have been made in neonatal mortality during the last two decades, but there are still an estimated 2.7 million neonatal deaths and 2.6 million stillbirths every year. Most of these losses are preventable with high-quality, evidence-based interventions delivered before and during pregnancy, during labour and childbirth, and in the crucial hours and days after birth.
Countries are increasingly collecting data that will enable the burden of stillbirths and newborn deaths to be more accurately estimated. Yet in most countries, especially where the estimated burden is the highest, there is a need to strengthen the civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems for counting all births and deaths and assigning cause of death. Most stillbirths and half of all neonatal deaths do not receive a birth certificate and are not registered. Improving systems for reporting births and neonatal deaths is a matter of human rights and a prerequisite for reducing stillbirths and neonatal mortality.