SRINAGAR: More than a thousand babies have been born without any signs of life in Kashmir’s premier Lalla Ded maternity hospital during the past three-and-a-half years. These stillbirths continue without any decline even as the mortality rate of new born babies has shown a decline.
In response to an RTI by Kashmir Reader, the hospital authorities said that more than 20 stillbirths occur in Lalla Ded hospital every month. “During the last three-and-a half years, as many as 1,052 stillbirths were recorded,” the hospital records revealed. The ratio of male stillbirths is higher. Experts define stillbirth as the birth of a baby born without any signs of life at or after 24 weeks of pregnancy.
It was revealed that as many as 95% of the patients who have delivered stillbirths have either come from home to hospital or were referred cases from other district hospitals.
The major cause given by gynaecologists for stillborn cases is pregnancy-induced hypertension, intrauterine growth retardation, congenital anomalies and chromosomal abnormalities. Medical disorders like jaundice, chronic renal disorders, and infections during pregnancy; RH isoimmunisation and gestational diabetes are other causes for stillbirths.
Dr Shahnaz Taing who heads the Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics said that pregnancy induced hypertension, diabetes and placental complication are the leading causes of stillbirths. “Many stillbirths are linked to placental complication. The placenta is a link that supply’s baby blood and nourishes him or her in the womb. When this particular organ doesn’t functional properly the baby doesn’t grow as it should. This eventually leads to an abnormality. In some cases the babies develop small heads, some are born without lungs or kidney,” she explained.
Taing underlines that hypertension and diabetics are the most common reasons for stillbirths. “Hypertension and diabetes are not preventable, but are treatable provided a patient comes for proper checkups. Many patients have complaints of high blood pressure during pregnancy. If that is not checked on time it might lead to grave complication,” she said.
Interestingly, the male babies are more prone to stillbirths. “By nature, male babies are poor survivors than females, so their mortality rate will always be higher.”
Dr Taing suggests that institutional delivery was the best solution to stop stillbirths. “Every expecting woman should deliver her baby in a hospital under the supervision of a gynaecologist. In case of any complication, only a gynaecologist can handle the situation,” she said. Taing also suggests proper follow-up and medication besides planning for pregnancy. “If a woman has any history of miscarriage she should be investigated properly and then suggested to have a baby. Pre-natal and anti-natal checkups should be done on regular intervals,” the gynaecologist said.
Medical superintendent of Lalla Ded hospital, Dr Mushtaq Ahmad Rather said that most stillborn babies are taken by their parents for last rites. “In rare cases disposals are done under the supervision of the police. We bury the babies in the hospital premises. The backyard of the hospital has been reserved for the purpose,” he said.