Stillbirth Risk Factors

The first 12 weeks of pregnancy are often viewed as a dangerous period for parents, due to the high risk of miscarriages during this time.

However, stillbirths are still a risk later in pregnancy and can often cause an immense amount of grief to parents who have been experiencing an otherwise problem-free pregnancy.

What Is It?
A stillbirth is defined as the death of a fetus after the 20th week of pregnancy up to birth. Approximately one in every 200 pregnancies will be a stillbirth. While 14% of stillbirths occur during delivery, the vast majority of stillbirths occur before this time.

Warning Signs
One of the first indications that something might be wrong with a fetus is a decrease in movement. If you notice that your baby is moving significantly less than usual or not at all, call your health care provider right away.

Your health care provider should also be notified if you have unusual vaginal bleeding. If the bleeding is accompanied by a lack of movement by the fetus, call your health care provider immediately.

At the Doctor's
Once you are at your health care provider, an ultrasound will be performed to determine the health of your baby. If your baby has died, the ultrasound may reveal the reason. Testing of your blood may also be performed to help determine the cause of death.

Once a child has died in the uterus, a woman's body will usually go into labor within two weeks after the death. However, for many women it is too upsetting to wait for labor to begin. Your health care provider can induce labor either immediately after diagnosing the stillbirth or, if you prefer, after two weeks if your body hasn't naturally gone into labor yet.

If the cause of death hasn't been determined already, tests may be performed on the baby and the placenta to provide this information. Unfortunately, as many as one third of stillbirths have no determinate cause.

What Causes Stillbirths?
One of the common reasons for stillbirths is placental abruption. This is when the placenta begins to strip away from the uterine wall, causing heavy bleeding and deprivation of oxygen to the fetus.

Chromosomal abnormalities are another cause of stillbirths. While they are the most common factor for miscarriages in the first trimester, a miscarriage due to a chromosomal abnormality can occur at any time during a pregnancy.

Other causes of stillbirth include gestational growth problems, environmental factors, genetic defects, and bacterial infections (such as listeriosis) in the mother. Additionally, the risk of a stillbirth increases with the maternal age.

Table of Contents
1. Stillbirth Warning Signs
2. Stillbirth risk factors
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lots of women don't know that being over due when you have gestational diabetes also increases the risk of still birth. my doctor had me do an preplanned c-section because of my gestational diabetes. he said that because at 40 weeks i showed no sign of going into labor it was best to deliver via c-section rather than wait because women with gestational diabetes who wait have a much higher risk of still birth --but i don't know why. i also had to count baby movements each day to make sure everything was normal.
13 years ago