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A 2016 study standardized the definition of stillbirths. It estimated the rate as a proportion of total births. A 2015 paper addressed the problem of disability-adjusted life-years (DALY) for stillbirths. There has been no adjustment of life expectancy at birth to account for stillbirths.
Methods and results
We follow mathematical and computational methods, use algebra to derive relationships, and large databases. We express the rate as a proportion of live births and use this rate to adjust life expectancy at birth for stillbirths. We then use the difference between the traditional life expectancy and stillbirths adjusted life expectancy (SALE) to obtain DALY for stillbirths for 194 countries, the Millennium Development Goal regions, and income groups.
We show defining stillbirths’ rate as a proportion of live births enhances stillbirths’ importance, especially in poorer countries; negates some of its under-statement vis-a-vis neonatal mortality rate, accentuates its decrease; and permits inference about relative magnitudes of stillbirths and neonatal mortality from the two rates. Using it, we derive stillbirths adjusted life expectancy, and suggest it reflects a more complete and accurate measure of comparative life expectancies of different countries. Its difference from the traditional life expectancy is used to measure DALY for stillbirths that totals 165.3 million years worldwide.
Stillbirths almost equals neonatal mortality yet have not received almost equal attention. We hope highlighting them and adjusting life expectancy for it will spur health interventions so that grand convergence of health outcomes in different countries can be more rapidly achieved. We also believe SALE is a more complete and accurate measure of comparative life expectancies.