Any fetus who suffers an intrauterine death after 20 weeks of gestation is considered to be stillborn. National Stillbirth Society data shows that one in every 160 pregnancies ends in a stillbirth. While some of these happen while a mother is in labor or during delivery, a large majority of them occur during her pregnancy.
The only way parents can find out why a stillbirth occurred is by having an autopsy performed on the baby. Medical examiners who have performed these have determined that certain factors can lead to stillbirths.
At least two-thirds of all stillbirths can be attributed to maternal diabetes, trauma, high blood pressure, umbilical cord accidents or postdate pregnancy. They are also caused by:
Chromosomal abnormalities account for as much as 20 percent of all stillbirths. Others may be caused by structural malformations caused by environmental and genetic factors as well.Placental problems
Pregnant women diagnosed with preeclampsia, or high blood pressure, are twice as likely to suffer a placental abruption that results in a stillbirth than others. A baby often dies in this situation because they stop receiving nutrients and oxygen necessary for their continued development and viability.
Doctors seldom notice when a pregnant woman between 24 and 27 gestational weeks develops a bacterial infection. By the time they diagnose them, complications have often set in making it more likely that they’ll have a stillbirth.
Babies who aren’t able to grow at a normal rate or are unusually small run the risk of dying from a lack of oxygen, also known as asphyxia. This can occur either before birth or during it.
Other risk factors
Mothers who are of advanced maternal age, which generally refers to anyone 35 or older, are at an increased risk for having a stillbirth. African-American women and any pregnant woman who smokes, is malnourished, consumes drugs or alcohol or receives inadequate medical care is at a higher risk of having a stillborn baby as well.
A woman’s risk of stillbirth goes down significantly when her doctors closely track her pregnancy using fetal heart rate monitors and by performing frequent ultrasounds. An Alton birth injuries attorney may advise you that you’re eligible to hold your obstetrician liable for failing to monitor your pregnancy closely enough if you suffered a stillbirth.