Study Says One Quarter of Stillbirths Might Be Prevented
Stillbirths are something that we don't want to think about or maybe even acknowledge as a possibility during pregnancy. I 100% understand that and truly, I don't like to think about the fact that even writing about stillbirth might frighten a mom who is currently expecting.
The truth is, stillbirth happens but it is extremely rare. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), stillbirth occurs in less than one percent of pregnancies. That's an incredibly low number, but of course, it's still a number. Many of us might even know someone who has experienced a stillbirth and to that mother, her baby was anything but “just” a number or a rarity. I'll never forget the look on a mama's face when, after seeing her in a store and not hearing the news that her baby had been born still, I asked how her baby was. That moment haunts me to this day, that pain and heartbreak and now that I am a mother myself, I mourn with her for the loss that lives within the hearts of all mothers who have experienced heartbreak.
Stillborns are one of the most mysterious experiences too, because in many instances, doctors don't have a clear answer to why the death occurred. A baby's heart, perfectly beating one day, might stop the next, or the baby just appears to have passed for no reason at all. Science can't always explain why stillbirths happen but now, a new study says that a quarter of deaths as a result of stillbirths may be preventable.
A new study that appeared on Obstetrics and Gynecology hoped to gain some answers about stillbirth in the US especially. In the US, one of the most developed countries in the world, the rate of stillbirth is actually one of the highest in the world. Rates for stillbirths have stayed steady for the last decade, showing no signs of slowing down, despite advanced medical care at some of the best hospitals in the world and a system of intense medical monitoring for expecting women during pregnancy. So what gives? Why is our rate of stillbirth so high?
That's exactly what the study hoped to answer–and the researchers think they have found at least part of the problem when it comes to stillbirth. According to the study, which looked at 512 cases of stillbirth, there were five main causes of stillbirth that were potentially preventable: the vast majority were caused by placental insufficiency, followed by medical complications during the pregnancy. The last three issues were high blood pressure disorders, preterm labor, and lastly, complications from a multiples pregnancy, which accounted for less than one percent of stillbirths.
Because the main cause of stillbirth seemed to stem from problems with placental insufficiency, the study's authors issued the recommendation that identifying and managing issues with placental insufficiency could have the most immediate effect on reducing the rate of stillbirths. But still, how exactly is that supposed to get done? Well, that's the problem. It's easier said then done and as the study also found, many stillbirths aren't linked to just one cause. Many stillbirths have more than one condition that can be linked to the stillbirth, so it can be hard to know for sure what to focus on. And further still, it can be hard to get the timing right. Doctors are constantly trying to balance keeping a baby healthy while allowing a pregnancy to progress with the knowledge that a risk for a stillbirth can increase past 37 weeks of pregnancy.
Overall, the study is an important step in more research being done that can help identify and potentially prevent stillbirth from happening. Although we don't have all the answers just yet, with more awareness, funding, and research, doctors can hopefully pinpoint the exact conditions that can lead to a stillbirth–and stop it from happening in the first place.