Netherlands sees sharp decrease in stillborn babies
The number of stillborn babies in the Netherlands decreased significantly over the past two decades, according to an international study by UNICEF. In the year 2000, over a thousand babies were stillborn. That decreased to 400 last year.
UNICEF attributed the decrease partly to policy measures, and more attention being paid to vulnerable pregnant women and a healthy lifestyle. According to the United Nations agency for children's rights, the Netherlands is one of the countries that booked the most progress in reducing the number of stillbirths.
A child is considered stillborn if there is no sign of life from week 28 of pregnancy. Last year about 2 million babies were stillborn worldwide, a decrease of 32 percent from 2.9 million in 2000. More than 80 percent of stillbirths happen in poorer regions, where women don't have reliable access to proper healthcare, such as in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
"Every 16 seconds, a baby is stillborn somewhere in the world," said Suzanne Laszlo, director of UNICEF Nederland. "While many mothers would not have had to lose their child if they had received proper care." This report by UNICEF shows just how big this "hidden suffering" is, she said. "A stillborn child is a deep, tragic loss that parents can grapple with for years."
UNICEF worries that the number of stillborn children will increase in the coming year, if the coronavirus pandemic results in access to healthcare deteriorating.