- Stillborn Meaning
- Stillbirth vs. Miscarriage
- Risk Factors
- How to Prevent Stillborn
- Pregnant After Stillborn
What does stillborn mean? Stillbirth statistics
Stillborn (stillbirth) means the death of a baby prior to birth. This can occur before or during delivery of the baby. About 1% of pregnancies overall result in stillbirth, meaning that there are about 24,000 stillbirths each year in the U.S.
Stillbirth vs. miscarriage
Both stillbirth and miscarriage are forms of pregnancy loss. In the U.S., a pregnancy loss before the 20th week of pregnancy is referred to as a miscarriage, while the term “stillbirth” refers to the loss of a baby after 20 weeks’ gestation. Not all doctors agree worldwide on these terms; for example, the WHO (World Health Organization) recommends a stillbirth to be defined as a baby born with no signs of life at or after 28 weeks gestation.
What are stillborn baby symptoms?
Stillbirth can be described as early, late, or term, depending on the stage of pregnancy.
- An early stillbirth is a fetal death occurring between 20 and 27 weeks of pregnancy.
- A late stillbirth is a fetal death occurring between 28 and 36 weeks.
- A term stillbirth is a fetal death occurring at 37 or more weeks.
What causes a baby to be stillborn?
- birth defects or chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus;
- problems with the placenta, such as insufficient blood flow;
- infections of the fetus, mother, or placenta;
- complications of pregnancy and labor, such as preterm labor and placental abruption (separation of the placenta from the uterine wall);
- problems with the umbilical cord; and
- high blood pressure or other health complications in the mother.
What are the risk factors for delivering a baby stillborn?
Certain conditions or factors increase the risk of having a stillborn baby. These include:
What is the treatment for mothers of stillborn babies?
Treatment for mothers of stillborn babies includes several key components:
- Delivery of the fetus. Depending on the stage of pregnancy, the fetus may be delivered by induction of labor or by dilation and evacuation (dilation of the cervix and removal of the fetus from the womb) if the stillbirth occurs in the second trimester. Cesarean delivery may also be an option for some women.
- Examination of the fetus and search for causes of stillbirth. This can include examination of the fetus or the amniotic fluid to try to determine the reason for the stillbirth. It is important to do this to try to determine if there are conditions or factors that might place future pregnancies at risk.
- Management of risk factors. If medical reasons or risk factors are present that might put future pregnancies at risk, the mother can work with her health care team to try to minimize risk for future pregnancies.
- Coping with grief. Emotional support and grief counseling is another important part of treatment of the mother.
Can anything be done to prevent stillborn births?
While there is never a way to prevent stillbirth completely, you can take steps to reduce your risk and to ensure a healthy pregnancy, such as maintaining a healthy weight before getting pregnant, not smoking or using alcohol or other drugs, getting a thorough checkup prior to becoming pregnant, ensuring good prenatal care and medical supervision, and getting treatment for any medical conditions.
What is the prognosis for women who want to become pregnant after having a stillborn baby?
Most women who have a stillborn baby go on to have a healthy pregnancy. The chances for a repeat stillbirth are very low. Only about 1 in 100 women (1%) will have a repeat stillbirth.
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United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Stillbirth."
United States National Institutes of Health. "What are possible causes of stillbirth?"