What Is Live Birth?


Quick Answer

Live birth refers to a baby born with any signs of life, such as heartbeat, voluntary muscle movement or pulsing of the umbilical cord, according to the World Health Organization. The baby must be completely out of the mother's body to receive this designation, although the umbilical cord and the placenta may still be attached. The designation does not change based on the length of the pregnancy.

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Full Answer

The WHO officially defined the term "live birth" in 1950, primarily for public health purposes and the keeping of statistics, states Wikipedia. The birth can be vaginal or by Caesarean, and the viability of the baby does not affect the definition. Even a very brief period of life meets the criteria for a live birth.

In contrast to a live birth, a stillbirth refers to a baby born with no signs of life during the third trimester, or at least 28 weeks into the pregnancy, reports the WHO. As of 2015, the majority of stillbirths occur in developing countries, and the WHO states that the majority of these are preventable with improved access to maternal health care. The distribution of stillbirths and maternal deaths correlate with areas where there is a lack of highly qualified health professionals. Major causes of stillbirths include childbirth complications, maternal health problems, restricted growth of the fetus and congenital abnormalities.

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