Stillbirths: Why They Matter

J Frederik Frøen, Joanne Cacciatore, Elizabeth M McClure, Oluwafemi Kuti, Abdul Hakeem Jokhio, Monir Islam, Jeremy Shiffman, for The Lancet’s Stillbirths Series steering committee. In this first paper of The Lancet’s Stillbirths Series we explore the present status of stillbirths in the world—from global health policy to a survey of community perceptions in 135 countries. Our findings highlight the need for a strong call for action. In times of global focus on motherhood, the mother’s own aspiration of a liveborn baby is not recognised on the world’s health agenda. Millions of deaths are not counted; stillbirths are not in the Global Burden of Disease, nor in disability-adjusted life-years lost, and they are not part of the UN Millennium Development Goals. The grief of mothers might be aggravated by social stigma, blame, and marginalisation in regions where most deaths occur.