Most of 2.6 million stillbirths are 'preventable'
Over 3,000 lives are lost to stillbirth a day across the world - most of which are preventable, according to studies published by The Lancet.
Two-thirds of last year's 2.6 million stillbirths were in Africa.
Half of stillbirths happen during labour as a result of preventable conditions, notably syphilis and malaria, they add.
The studies argue stillbirths are preventable through high-quality antenatal care.
The studies say there is a widespread belief that stillbirths are due to birth defects and are unavoidable.
However, it points out that this only accounts for 7.3% of stillbirths after 28 weeks.
They ranked the three countries with the highest rates of still births as Pakistan, followed by Nigeria and Chad.
A notable exception is Rwanda, which the studies point out was able to reduce the number of stillbirths.
Stillbirths in numbers:
- An estimated 2.6 million stillbirths occur annually
- 98% occur in low-income and middle-income countries
- 75% are in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia
- More than half occur in conflict or emergency zones
- Half of all stillbirths (1.3 million) occur during labour and birth
- In sub-Saharan Africa, two-thirds of stillbirths are in rural areas
- More than 40 million women give birth unattended at home each year
- At present rates of progress, it will be 160 years until a woman in Africa will have the same chance of her baby being born alive as a woman in a high-income country
Source: The Lancet