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What are some reasons stillbirths occur?

Much like miscarriages, mothers who suffer from stillbirths often blame themselves for the loss of their child. The National Stillbirth Society (NSS) warns that the intrauterine death of a child can happen for many different reasons though.

They note that stillbirths are fairly common, happening in one out of every 160 pregnancies. Most are believed to happen well beyond the 20-week gestation mark, but prior to labor. Only a small percentage of stillbirths are believed to actually occur during labor itself.

While autopsies are generally the only way to learn for sure while a stillbirth occurred, there are some known conditions that carry with them a higher risk of causing a baby to either die in the womb or be born dead.

Placental abruption, a condition often faced by women with high blood pressure during pregnancy, also known as preeclampsia, can put mothers at risk for a stillbirth. In fact, NSS reports that women diagnosed with this condition have two times the risk of having a stillborn child than mothers not diagnosed with it.

In this case, it's believed that the mother's high blood pressure cuts off both a healthy supply of both nutrients and oxygen to the baby, resulting in his or her death.

If a pregnant woman develops an undiagnosed bacterial infection that goes undiagnosed between the 24- and 27-week mark of her pregnancy, then the risk of a stillbirth is one of many complications that can result. Babies are thought to die when bacterial infections go untreated at this stage because it's a critical point in their development.

Other incidents that can result in a baby suffering a stillbirth include having been subjected to trauma or having been involved in an accident. Undiagnosed or improperly treated gestational diabetes can also result in a baby's stillbirth. Pregnancies allowed to last more than 42 weeks and deliveries involving umbilical cord complications have a higher likelihood of resulting in the baby being born dead as well.

If you've suffered a stillbirth that you believe may be related to an untreated medical condition or some other type of doctor negligence, then a Tucson birth injury attorney can advise you of your rights.

Source: American Pregnancy Association, "Stillbirth: Trying to understand," accessed Nov. 17, 2017

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