- The overall number of stillbirths and neonatal deaths decreased from 37,813 in 2007 to 33,457 in 2015
- Changes are probably due in part to a recommendation that elective deliveries wait till 39 weeks
(CNN)A recent drop in stillbirths and newborn deaths in the United States might be linked to an increase in term or near-term births, a new study suggests.
The study, published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, looked at more than 99% of US live births and stillbirths between 2007 and 2015 using data from the National Center for Health Statistics of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The data included approximately 34 million live births and 200,000 stillbirths. Full-term births take place in the 39th or 40th week of pregnancy.
Stillbirth refers to the death of a fetus at 20 or more weeks of gestation, while neonatal death refers to the death of a child within 28 days of delivery, according to the CDC.
The researchers found that the overall number of stillbirths and neonatal deaths decreased from 37,813 deaths in 2007 to 33,457 in 2015, an 11.5% drop.
"In the past decade, there have been some obstetrical interventions, as well as physician education, resulting in a decline in births at preterm or early term gestations," said Cande Ananth, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center and a leading author on the study. "Indeed, what we found is that the decline in perinatal mortality was largely attributable to changes in the gestational age distribution."