Risk factors of stillbirths in four district hospitals on Pemba Island, Tanzania: a prospective cohort study

TB Skytte, CC Holm-Hansen, SM Ali, S Ame, J Molenaar, G Greisen, A Poulsen, JL Sorensen, S Lund

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More than 2 million third-trimester stillbirths occur yearly, most of them in low- and middle-income countries. Data on stillbirths in these countries are rarely collected systematically. This study investigated the stillbirth rate and risk factors associated with stillbirth in four district hospitals in Pemba Island, Tanzania.

A prospective cohort study was completed between the 13th of September and the 29th of November 2019. All singleton births were eligible for inclusion. Events and history during pregnancy and indicators for adherence to guidelines were analysed in a logistic regression model that identified odds ratios [OR] with a 95% confidence interval [95% CI].

A stillbirth rate of 22 per 1000 total births in the cohort was identified; 35.5% were intrapartum stillbirths (total number of stillbirths in the cohort, n = 31). Risk factors for stillbirth were breech or cephalic malpresentation (OR 17.67, CI 7.5-41.64), decreased or no foetal movements (OR 2.6, CI 1.13–5.98), caesarean section [CS] (OR 5.19, CI 2.32–11.62), previous CS (OR 2.63, CI 1.05–6.59), preeclampsia (OR 21.54, CI 5.28–87.8), premature rupture of membranes or rupture of membranes 18 h before birth (OR 2.5, CI 1.06–5.94) and meconium stained amniotic fluid (OR 12.03, CI 5.23–27.67). Blood pressure was not routinely measured, and 25% of women with stillbirths with no registered foetal heart rate [FHR] at admission underwent CS.

The stillbirth rate in this cohort was 22 per 1000 total births and did not fulfil the Every Newborn Action Plan’s goal of 12 stillbirths per 1000 total births in 2030. Awareness of risk factors associated with stillbirth, preventive interventions and improved adherence to clinical guidelines during labour, and hence improved quality of care, are needed to decrease the stillbirth rate in resource-limited settings.
Original languageEnglish
Article number23
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Global health
  • Intrapartum care
  • Low-and-middle-income country
  • Maternal health
  • Quality of care
  • Stillbirth


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