New Research Finds Causes of Stillbirth Not so Easily Explained

Researchers have been intrigued with the findings of two new studies that have been released recently.  The first one identifies a few possible causes of stillbirth, while the second finds that known risk factors at the beginning of a pregnancy rarely cause the actual stillbirth.

Both of the studies were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  In the first study, scientists compared 512 stillbirths, and found a possible or probable cause of death in 76% of these cases.  Out of these, 29% of the stillbirths were associated with death during labor. Placental disease accounted for 24% of the stillbirths, 13% were caused by infections while 14% were caused by genetic abnormalities.  Approximately 17% were caused by maternal medical complications, like hypertension.

The second study tried to determine whether risk factors that are apparent at the beginning of the pregnancy were responsible for causing the stillbirth.  The researchers compared a total of 614 stillbirths, and analyzed a number of factors that were apparent at the beginning of the pregnancy like maternal diabetes, advanced maternal age of above 40, blood type AB, a history of smoking, a previous stillbirth, drug or alcohol abuse, hypertension, and obesity.

However, they found that these factors were not vastly responsible for the stillbirths.  In fact, these factors, which were very apparent early in the pregnancy, accounted for just 1/5th of the stillbirths.

The researchers also found racial differences in stillbirth risks.  Black women were more likely to have a stillbirth compared to women of other races.  The disparities were most visible when the pregnancy was below 24 weeks of gestation.  However, the researchers were unable to determine the reasons for this racial disparity.


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Posted in Birth Injury

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