Obstetric Fistula in Low-Resource Countries: An Under-Valued and Under-Studied Problem - Systematic Review of Its Incidence, Prevalence, and Association With Stillbirth

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Background Obstetric fistula (OF) is a serious consequence of prolonged, obstructed labor in settings where emergency obstetric care is limited, but there are few reliable, population-based estimates of the rate of OF. Stillbirth (SB) is another serious consequence of prolonged, obstructed labor, yet the frequency of SB in women with OF is poorly described. Here, we review these data. Methods We searched electronic databases and grey literature for articles on OF in low-resource countries published between January 1, 1995, and November 16, 2014, and selected for inclusion 19 articles with original population-based OF incidence or prevalence data and 44 with reports of frequency of SB associated with OF. Results OF estimates came from medium- and low-HDI countries in South Asia and Africa, and varied considerably; incidence estimates ranged from 0 to 4.09 OF cases per 1000 deliveries, while prevalence estimates were judged more prone to bias and ranged from 0 to 81.0 OF cases per 1000 women. Reported frequency of SB associated with OF ranged from 32.3 % to 100 %, with estimates from the largest studies around 92 %. Study methods and quality were inconsistent. Conclusions Reliable data on OF and associated SB in low-resource countries are lacking, underscoring the relative invisibility of these issues. Sound numbers are needed to guide policy and funding responses to these neglected conditions of poverty. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12884-015-0592-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth






open access