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Stillbirth rates ‘higher in boys than girls’

28th November 2014

The risk of stillbirth is around ten percent higher in boys than girls, according to a new study from the University of Exeter.

Published in the journal BMC Medicine, the study reviewed more than 30 million births globally, finding that this increased risk was consistent across both high and low-income countries. This equates to a loss of around 100,000 additional male babies per year.

The only exceptions to this global pattern were found in reports from China and India, where sex-biased induced abortion is a known issue. Stillbirth rates in rich and poor countries were also shown to have declined very little in the past 15 years.

Although the reasons for increased risk to male babies are not known, they could include developmental differences in the growth and function of the placenta, or the increased sensitivity of male foetuses to harmful environmental factors.

Dr Fiona Mathews from the University of Exeter said: "Uncovering why male babies are at higher risk could be a first step towards developing new approaches to prevention, including sex-specific management of high-risk pregnancies."

In the UK, one in 260 of all pregnancies results in stillbirth. It is 15 times more common than cot death, with around two-thirds of cases linked to placental complications.ADNFCR-8000103-ID-801763228-ADNFCR

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