A study series found that majority of 2015's approximately 2.6 million stillbirths could have been prevented. Researchers from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine discovered that stillbirth figures remained excessively high and unchanged since 2011.
Stillbirth happens when an infant survived the first 28 weeks of development, but died in the womb. Neonatal death is when an infant died within the first 28 days.
Between 2000 and 2015, the average rate was reduced to 18.4 from 24.7 per 1,000 total births. However, the average rate is still higher than the worldwide target of 12 or lower come 2030, as endorsed by the World Health Assembly.
The decrease in cases of stillborn was accounted to a 2 percent yearly reduction rate, which showed an even slower progress compared to the rates of preventing maternal (3 percent), newborn (3.1 percent) and child deaths (4.5 percent) in the past 15 years.
The studies found that among the high- and middle-income nations, 94 met the WHA's stillbirth target. While no less than 56 countries still need to increase their progress rate in order to reach the target.
Findings showed 98 percent of stillbirths happen in countries with low- and middle-income populations, about 75 percent of which is centered in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Nearly 60 percent happen in rural areas where there are fewer qualified health experts and medical centers. In these areas, more than half are situated in areas with humanitarian conflicts.
"We must give a voice to the mothers of 7,200 babies stillborn around the world every day. There is a common misperception that many of the deaths are inevitable, but our research shows most stillbirths are preventable," said series co-lead Professor Joy Lawn from LSHTM.
According to the authors, majority of stillbirth cases could have been avoided by improving the antenatal care of women's during which the problems are easier to detect. Monitoring the women during labor could also help in preventing stillbirths.
The research team said upgrading the tested prenatal and delivery systems in the 75 most affected countries could avoid 1.1 million neonatal deaths, 823,000 stillbirths and 166,000 maternal deaths annually.
"We're not talking hi-tech [care], we're talking about taking blood pressure, taking urine [samples], making sure they don't have malaria," said Dr. Hannah Blencowe from the LSHTM, who stressed the important of labor monitoring as half of all stillbirth cases occur during labor.
Blencowe added that over 80 percent of women take prenatal classes, however, the quality of these classes is irregular across many countries.
The series of studies were published in the journal The Lancet.