Nunavik Inuit women have high rate of stillbirth: study

New research finds better health care, tobacco reduction could lower rates


Inuit women in Quebec have stillbirth rate that’s 2.5 times higher than among the province’s non-aboriginal women.

That’s among the information contained in a new research study published Canadian Medical Association Journal, which suggests better care during pregnancy and birth could underlie the disparities in stillbirths, which see women losing their babies after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

“Aboriginal populations in Canada [First Nations and Inuit] rank at the top of the list of disadvantaged groups with the highest rates of stillbirth in the Western world,” said Dr. Nathalie Auger, Institut national de santé publique du Québec, which is why she and other researchers from Quebec’s public health research institute wanted to look at stillbirths among Inuit and First Nations in Quebec.

Auger said stillbirth, particularly in the third trimester, that is, after six months of pregnancy, is potentially preventable, especially at the end of pregnancy, when many of these stillbirths take place.

For the study, researchers looked at data on 9,983 stillbirths and 2,397,971 live births in Quebec to understand the causes and timing of stillbirths, which are potentially preventable after 28 weeks, in Inuit and First Nations women.

In Inuit women, stillbirths were more likely to be caused by poor fetal growth and short gestation, and placental and related disorders, as well as birth defects, they found.

They suggest that prevention may require improvements in pregnancy and obstetric care, as well as modification of behavioural risk factors — such as smoking, whch can affect prenatal growth.

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