USask researchers Nazeem Muhajarine (right) and Daniel Adeyinka study worldwide stillbirth rates.
Bridging the yawning chasm between genders could improve stillbirth rates, suggests a recent study that collated data from 194 countries.
The Scientific Reports journal article offers a comprehensive look into the dire global affliction, which according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) has claimed the lives of at least 3 million infants per day be it post- or antenatal.
Pregnant women hailing from developing economies are more likely to suffer from poor maternal health due to fewer educational and employment opportunities than their male counterparts.
Researchers of the study, based in the University of Saskatchewan Canada (USask), stressed the importance of their findings, "Our research offers a better understanding of where stillbirth rates are higher, and what the social causes underlying stillbirths are, not just taking into account the medical factors as most studies do.
"Many mothers-to-be experience stillbirths around the world and this loss takes a personal toll on the families and the women who are preparing to give birth and see their dreams dashed. We hope we will help these women with our research," added USask community health and epidemiology researcher Nazeem Muhajarine.
The artificial intelligence model employed by the team revealed a strong correlation between stillbirth rates and gender disparity.
With the help of cluster maps, the researchers were able to pinpoint “hot-spots” and “cold-spots” of infant death at delivery. A total of 37 countries in the African and South Asian region glowed an alarming red with Pakistan and Nigeria taking the lead.
The former tallied at 43 stillbirths per 1,000 births while the target rate set by WHO’s Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP) is 12.Clusters in the north boasted “colder” regions with the lowest fatality rates. These countries include Canada, Ireland and Russia among 13 others.
"A cultural change is needed in 'hot spot' countries around women's conditions," urged Muhajarine. "Not only should we offer better hospital services and more access to skilled healthcare professionals, but we also need to make sure that women and girls have access to enough food, better education and work opportunities, and are not married off too early."
Even though gender inequality is one of the key social determinants of soaring stillbirth rates, researchers highlight other conclusive factors such as lack of prenatal healthcare, absence of skilled midwives and nurses during delivery and anaemic (iron-deficient) pregnant women.
The study appeals to the policymakers in underprivileged economies where worsening social inequities for women have resulted in “disproportionately high stillbirth rates.”
Muhajarine and his colleagues remind concerned authorities and the world that stillbirth is a preventable death.
Improvements can only be made through collaborative efforts to close the gaping chasm by meeting nutritional demands, offering quality maternal healthcare and providing educational access to women.
Indo-Asian News Service
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