POST Online Media Lite Edition


NEWLY REPORTED COVID-19 CASES IN LAST 24 HOURS (10.19.2021, 11:42am CEST, WHO):   U.S. 16,894    India 13,596    Brazil 5,738    United Kingdom 44,696    Russia 34,325    Turkey 24,114    France 3,778    Iran 11,844    Colombia 1,299    Italy 2,435    Germany 4,056    Mexico 1,993    Poland 1,536    Philippines 6,943    Ukraine 9,524    Malaysia 5,434    Netherlands 3,703    Iraq 1,559    Thailand 10,111    Chile 1,315    Romania 10,141    Israel 1,199    Serbia 5,077    Kazakhstan 1,677    Vietnam 3,168    Hungary 3,274    Austria 2,257    Greece 1,689    Georgia 2,479    Guatemala 3,649    Belarus 1,981    Bulgaria 1,000    Azerbaijan 1,896    Myanmar 1,022    Ireland 1,380    Venezuela 1,349    Lithuania 1,478    South Korea 1,073    Mongolia 1,303    Moldova 1,115    Armenia 1,192    Latvia 2,377    China 30    Singapore 2,553    New Zealand 99    Australia 2,186   

Malaria and syphilis are leading infectious causes of stillbirth

Staff writer |
Losing a child late in pregnancy is a cause of extraordinary grief and for many reasons, stillbirths are routinely under-reported.

Article continues below

That has made it difficult to quantify the global burden, to determine the various causes, and to develop appropriate interventions to tackle the problem.

New research on ending preventable stillbirths, published in the Lancet medical journal, estimates that 2.6 million pregnancies ended in stillbirth worldwide last year. Of these, 98 percent occurred in low- and middle-income countries.

Malaria and syphilis are responsible for more stillbirths than any other infections, causing more than 420,000 stillbirths between them every year.

"In sub-Saharan Africa, three of every 10 stillbirths are due to malaria or syphilis. Although these figures are grim, there is reason for hope. We know how to intervene," Matthew Chico and Rosanna Peeling, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine write.

An anti-malarial medication called SP (sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine) should be given to pregnant women who live in areas with moderate to high malaria transmission to help protect against malaria, and in turn, safeguard against a range of associated problems including stillbirth, preterm birth, low birthweight, maternal anaemia, and neonatal death.

This is part of the Global Call to Action recommended by the World Health Organization.

The best course of action is to provide SP at a cost of just $0.20 per course until a better option is available, coupled with using insecticide-treated bednets at night to prevent the malaria-transmitting mosquitoes from biting women.

As for syphilis, around 4 or 5 percent of pregnant women in East and Southern Africa are infected with it. A recent study in Tanzania showed 25 percent of pregnant women with untreated infection delivered a stillborn baby and 50 percent of all stillbirths were attributed to syphilis in women who had not been screened.

A second study in the same setting showed that treatment with a single dose of penicillin before 28 weeks of pregnancy cured maternal and congenital syphilis and prevented stillbirth and low birthweight attributable to the infection. The cost of intervention was just $1.4 per woman screened.

What to read next

Syphilis infections on rise in Europe
3.2 billion people at risk of malaria
Genetic tweaks in mosquitoes might curb malaria transmission