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WHO South East Asia J Public Health. 2018 Sep;7(2):114-121. doi: 10.4103/2224-3151.239423.

Factors associated with stillbirths in Haryana, India: a qualitative study.

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Indian Institute of Public Health-Delhi (IIPH-D), Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), Haryana, India.
National Health Mission, State Government of Haryana, India.
State Government of Haryana, Haryana, India.



Each year, 2.6 million babies are stillborn worldwide, almost all in low- and middle-income countries. Several global initiatives, including the Sustainable Development Goals and the Every Newborn Action Plan, have contributed to a renewed focus on prevention of stillbirths. Despite being relatively wealthy, the state of Haryana in India has a significant stillbirth rate. This qualitative study explored the factors that might contribute to these stillbirths.


This was a sub-study of a case-control study of factors associated with stillbirth in 15 of the 21 districts of Haryana in 2014-2015. A total of 43 in-depth interviews were conducted with mothers who had recently experienced a stillbirth, or with a family member. By use of reflexive and inductive qualitative methodology, the data set was coded to allow categories to emerge.


Two categories and several subcategories were identified. First, factors occurring before the woman reached a health-care facility were: lack of awareness of the mothers and family members; intake of sex-selection drugs during pregnancy, in order to have a male child; non-adherence to treatment for high blood pressure; lack of prior identification of an appropriate health-care facility for delivery; and transportation to a health-care facility for delivery. Second, factors occurring once the health-care facility was reached were: lack of timely and adequate management; and use of medication during labour.


Intrapartum stillbirths are closely linked to the availability and accessibility of appropriate medical care. Timely and appropriate treatment and care, provided by a trained and skilled health worker during pregnancy and labour, as well as soon after delivery, is an absolute requirement for averting these stillbirths. This study underscores the importance of imparting and increasing awareness regarding factors that have a significant bearing on stillbirth and can be mitigated through prompt and adequate obstetric health-care services.


India; prevention; qualitative; stillbirth; three delays model

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