Someone anonymously posted a comment on this post, with no other note, so I'm not sure why? Next time leave a name, my dear, I don't bite...
What I wrote was this, "Our babies deaths rank lower on the pyramid of pain than any other deaths. You quoted a study a while back that said 31,000 babies were stillborn in the US every year. I don't even know the number in Canada, because we don't even publish it every year. (We publish the number of potatoes we grow every year, but not dead babies.)"
April 06, 2007 8:06 PM
Now, if you click on the link you will discover a report from Statistics Canada on Stillbirths. Only problem is that it is totally inaccurate, which is why I made the point that we require precise counts on crops we produce, down to the bushel, but don't count medical events like dead babies.
Inaccurate, you say? How so?
Well the legal definition of a stillbirth in Ontario, here is defined as 20 weeks gestation or over 500 grams in weight. This is the same in almost every other province, and most other states...some vary the number of weeks or weight, but the gist of it is that everything over that "counts" and everything under that has no existence.
That StatsCan table is for stillbirths over 28 weeks, a completely different criteria, therefore useless, for comparison value with other countries and provinces. It also does not distinguish between medical terminations and natural stillbirths, important because prior to the advent of prenatal diagnosis, medical terminations at that stage were only done if a woman was too ill to continue on, or wished to end the pregnancy voluntarily. This lack of distinction makes historical comparisons for public health purposes impossible.
Last July a couple of stories like this one here publicized this problem, it's behind a firewall, sorry, but you can purchase a copy, or get it from a university with a subscription. The quick summary is that thousands of births, stillbirths, and infant deaths have gone undocumented in the last 15 years in Ontario because of some major screw-ups in the office of the Registrar-General. And since Ontario is the largest province in Canada, all of the maternal-fetal health stats in Canada are skewed as a result. Which messes up the stats for the entire western industrial world. The government is now attempting to go back and fix this, but it's a big job.
(In case my non-Canadian readers are wondering why this happened, we stupidly elected an extreme right wing guy named Mike Harris at one point, and he imposed excess fees and paperwork for birth registration, (along with other excess fees for every damn thing you can think of from driving your car to paying your electric bill) so he could cut our taxes. Long story short....we're still trying to unfuck the mess....)
Back to our main point, since the invention of ultrasound, most people find out about miscarriages, fetal anomalies, and just about everything prior to 20 weeks. But that doesn't even get counted.
No one even counts those pregnancies, those losses, nothing, nada, zip, zilch.
And when the line is fuzzy, when the numbers aren't precise, when the weight is little low, the Doctors quite often ever so helpfully don't bother the parents with the paperwork. You see, stillbirths, live births and deaths requires HORDES of paperwork. And losses under 20 weeks, require none, except for the bill of course. So it looks like the rate of stillbirths is holding steady or dropping, when in fact, we're just discovering the losses earlier.
In my ideal world, public health and agencies like StatsCan record every positive beta, track the course of every pregnancy and every outcome. Whether that outcome is a joyful one or a sad one, the gestation, any health events connected to the mother and father are simply recorded. (Yes, even the ones that end in clinics with teenagers crying and praying their parents never find out.) Privacy legislation has been in effect for years so that names and identifying info is separated from health records. We do it for hip operations, cancer tumours, learning disabilities, chicken pox, literally every health event under the sun...except for this.
Why should this be counted to?
Because it's damn hard to solve a problem when you have no idea how big it is.