Maternal obesity linked to stillbirths
More than half of expectant mothers whose babies were stillborn or died shortly after birth were obese or overweight, a new study reveals.
A report from the National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre (NPEC) at University College Cork found that 56.6pc of mothers who experienced a perinatal death - of either the foetus or death of a newborn within 28 days of birth - in 2016 had a high Body Mass Index (BMI).
Women who were under the age of 25 or over the age of 40 were also twice as likely to experience a perinatal loss than women aged between 25 and 29, the report found.
However, the good news is that the number of perinatal deaths is at a 20-year low.
The NPEC report on Perinatal Mortality in Ireland (2016) found the death rate of 5.8 deaths per 1,000 births - or one death in 172 births - is the lowest since records began in 1999. There were 407 perinatal deaths in 2016 among 64,133 births.
Stillbirths accounted for 61.4pc of all perinatal deaths, followed by deaths within the first week of life (30.5pc).
Just 8.1pc of deaths occurred within the first 28 days of life.
The most common reason for perinatal deaths was major congenital abnormalities. They accounted for more than half (54.8pc) of deaths within the first week, followed by 45.4pc of deaths within the first 28 days of life and just under a third (31.2pc) of stillbirths.
Researchers, meanwhile, backed recommendations by the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology that a foetal anomaly scan be made available to all pregnant women in their second trimester. They also called for the establishment of a public health education programme to reduce the risk of perinatal deaths.