Unexplained stillbirths where a cause cannot be found make up more than half of all such deaths, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said.
In written reply to a parliamentary question, he said other main causes included infections, such as syphilis and HIV, diseases affecting the placenta, such as high blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes, and conditions related to the placenta, such as bleeding before delivery caused by premature separation of the placenta from the uterine wall.
Stillbirths were also caused by intrauterine growth retardation "from whatever cause", congenital birth defects and abnormalities, poor blood and oxygen supply during labour, and abnormalities developed during growth in the uterus.
Motsoaledi said the number of stillbirth’s amount to a total of 107,328 over a span of five years.
The number of maternal deaths, defined as the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management, but not from accidental causes, from 2005 to 2009 totalled 7293.
The five main causes of maternal deaths were infections not related to the pregnancy, for an example, HIV, pneumonia, complications of hypertension, such as stroke and seizures, bleeding before and after birth, infections related to the pregnancy, such as kidney and genital tract infections, and pre-existing diseases in the mother, for example, cardiac disease.
Hospitals with highest mortality rates
Motsoaledi said hospitals with the highest notified deaths in these two categories grouped per province were KwaZulu-Natal, Addington Hospital, GJ Crookes Hospital, Lower Umfolozi War Memorial Hospital, Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital, and RK Khan Hospital.
The Free State, Boitumelo Hospital, Bongani hospital, Manapo Hospital, Pelonomi Hospital, and Universitas Hospital.
Mpumalanga, Rob Ferreira Hospital, Tintswalo Hospital, Themba Hospital, Tonga Hospital, and Witbank Hospital.
Northern Cape, Barkly West Hospital, Gordonia Hospital, Postmasburg Hospital, Kimberley Hospital, and Kimberley MediClinic.
Western Cape George Hospital, Groote Schuur Hospital, Helderberg Hospital, Tygerburg Hospital, and Vredenburg Hospital.
North West, Gelukspan Hospital, Job Tabane Hospital, Klerksdorp Hospital, Mafikeng Hospital, and Potchefstroom Hospital.
Eastern Cape, Cecilia Makiwane Hospital, Dora Ngiza Hospital, Frere Hospital, Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital, and Tafalofefe Hospital.
Gauteng, Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Germiston Hospital, Natalspruit Hospital, and Steve Biko Academic Hospital.
Limpopo, Jane Furse Hospital, Letaba Hospital, Mankweng Hospital, Mokopane Hospital, and Pietersburg Hospital.
(Sapa, October 2010)
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