Globally in 2019, an estimated 2 million babies were stillborn at 28 weeks or more of gestation. Stillbirth rates differ across the globe, with a risk that is up to 23 times higher in the worst affected countries. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened stillbirth rates according to initial findings. Yet the majority of stillbirths are preventable.
Stillbirth profoundly affects women, their families, health care workers, and the wider community in all settings. As one systematic review and meta-analysis found, “Stillbirth can have devastating psychological, physical, and social costs, with ongoing effects on interpersonal relationships and subsequently born children.”
Parent and family engagement are critical for advancing efforts to end preventable stillbirth and support those affected. The Parent Voice Initiative recently identified over 600 parent support organizations for stillbirth globally; however, only 15% of these are located in Africa or Asia where the majority of stillbirths occur (98% of stillbirths occur in low and middle income countries). Urgent action is needed to strengthen programmatic approaches and data systems to provide high-quality care throughout pregnancy and childbirth, to end preventable stillbirths and improve care after a death.