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Studies Find Probable Causes of Stillbirth

It’s probably the most devastating thing that a woman can go through during pregnancy; losing the baby. As someone who has encountered a loss before, it truly feels like a part of you goes too.

Just last week, reality television star Michelle Duggar revealed that she miscarried well after her first trimester while at an ultrasound to find out the sex of the baby. While most pregnancies that do end in miscarriage happen during the first trimester there are still a number of deaths that can occur well beyond the first 13 weeks.

The National Stillbirth Society defines stillbirth as the “intrauterine death and subsequent delivery of a developing infant that occurs beyond 20 completed weeks of gestation.” According to the American Pregnancy Association, one in 160 pregnancies United States will end in still birth. There has long been mystery behind what exactly causes stillbirth and up until recently, not much research has been done to find the cause.

The American Medical Association recently published two new studies behind the causes and risk factors behind stillbirth and some of their findings say that stillbirth may be avoidable.

The first study followed 500 diverse women who had a stillborn baby.  USA Today revealed that the women agreed to have their placenta examined and also agreed to have their fetus undergo an autopsy and genetic testing.  The women were interviewed and gave the researchers access to their medical records.

The study found the cause of death for 61 percent of the stillborn babies, with the most common cause of death as placental abnormalities (24 percent).  Other identifiable causes of death included  infections, either viral or bacterial (13 percent), umbilical cord abnormalities (10.4 percent), hypertension in the mother (9 percent,) and other maternal medical conditions including diabetes (8 percent).

The second study published looked further into the risk factors before pregnancy that can cause stillbirth.  The study revealed that African American women are more likely to experience a stillborn than any other race.  There is currently more research being done to find out exactly why this occurs.

Regardless of race, there are several lifestyle factors in a woman that can have an effect on her risk of stillborn during pregnancy. If a woman is a smoker, has diabetes, or is overweight, they are at a higher risk.

Age and blood-type can also play a role in a woman’s risk. Women who are 40 years or older have a 2.4 percent higher chance of having a stillborn than women who are pregnant between the ages of 20-34. Women who carry the AB blood-type are at higher risk as well.

There is still more research that needs to be done regarding stillborn deaths. With these two new studies, hopefully scientists and researchers can only dive deeper into the subject.

There is nothing that makes the loss of a baby during pregnancy easier, but hopefully with this new research, woman can find some of the answers they have been looking for, including ways to lessen our chances.

 

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