Understanding Stillbirth

What Is Stillbirth?

Stillbirth is the death of a fetus after the 20th week of pregnancy, but before the baby can be delivered.  A stillbirth occurs in about 1 in 160 pregnancies. The majority of stillbirths happen hours before labor, whereas rarely, the fetus may die during labor and delivery.

Major Causes of Stillbirth

  • Placental Problems: The placenta is an organ that lines the uterus of pregnant women. The placenta separates too soon from the uterine wall. Women with placenta abruption or a pregnancy-related form of high blood pressure called preeclampsia or pregnancy-induced hypertension, have twice the risk of abruption or stillbirth as unaffected women. The fetus gets its blood, oxygen, and nutrients through the placenta and umbilical cord, so problems in either will affect the growth of the fetus. Sometimes insufficient oxygen and nutrients can also contribute to a baby’s death.
  • Birth defects: Chromosomal disorders account for 15-20% of all stillborn babies. In more than 1 of every 10 stillbirths, the fetus had a genetic or structural birth defect that probably or possibly caused the death. 
  • Medical complications in the mother. Problems with the mother’s health such as Diabetes, High blood pressure, Lupus, Heart or thyroid disease were considered a probable or possible cause in fewer than 1 in 10 of stillbirths.
  • Mother’s lifestyle choices. Smoking, drinking alcohol, and using certain recreational drugs during pregnancy are linked with higher rates of stillbirth.
  • Severe lack of nutrition

Am I at Risk for Stillbirth

  • A previous stillbirth
  • Women 35 years old or older
  • Malnutrition
  • Inadequate prenatal care
  • Obesity

How is a stillbirth diagnosis made?

Most women usually notice that their baby isn’t very active and become worried about what this could mean. An ultrasound can confirm that the baby has died and in some cases determine the reason why.

Stillbirth can be prevented with improvements in medicine have decreased the number of stillbirths. Today women with high-risk pregnancies are carefully monitored through routine ultrasounds and/or fetal heart rate monitoring. Fetal heart rate monitoring can be done  by the use of a Fetal Doppler/Fetal heart rate monitor, you may check https://babysound.ca/ for good quality of fetal dopplers. If potential problems are identified, early delivery may be necessary.

The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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