How can we reduce the risk of still birth !!

Still Birth: What we can do to reduce the risk of still birth?

What is still birth?

Stillbirth occurs when the foetus dies after the 20th week of pregnancy. The baby may die in utero weeks or hours before delivery. Rarely, the baby may die during delivery. Although prenatal care has improved greatly over the years, the reality is that stillbirths still occur and often go unexplained.

A stillbirth is classified as either an early stillbirth, a late birth, or a term stillbirth. Those types are determined by the number of weeks of pregnancy:


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1) Early stillbirth: The foetus dies between 20 and 27 weeks.

2) Late birth: The foetus dies between 28 and 36 weeks.

3) Term stillbirth: Fetal death occurs at or after the 37th week.

Who is at risk of stillbirth?

Stillbirth can happen to pregnant women of any age, background, or ethnicity. They can be unpredictable – 1/3 of cases go unexplained. However, there are some ways you can reduce your risk. if you:

  1. Smoking, drinking alcohol, or using recreational drugs.
  2. Are an older mother (age 35 or older).
  3. Get poor prenatal care.
  4. Malnourished.


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What is the difference between miscarriage and still birth? 

Like stillbirth, miscarriage is also the loss of a pregnancy. However, while stillbirth is the loss of a baby after 20 weeks of pregnancy, miscarriage occurs before the 20th week.

What is the cause of stillbirth?

Knowing the cause of stillbirth is important not only for healthcare providers, but for parents to help with the grieving process. The cause is not always known (1/3 of stillbirths cannot be explained), but the most likely causes include:

1. Problems with the placenta: Your placenta is the organ that lines your uterus when you are pregnant. Through this placenta, the foetus receives blood, oxygen and nutrients. Any problems with your placenta end up in chances that the foetus will not develop properly.


2. Preeclampsia: Preeclampsia is high blood pressure and swelling that often occurs late in pregnancy. If you have preeclampsia, you have twice the risk of placental abruption or stillbirth.

3. The medical condition of the mother: Other diseases can sometimes cause stillbirth. The list includes diabetes, heart disease, thyroid disease, or viral or bacterial infections.

4. Infection: An infection between week 24 and week 27 can cause fetal death. Usually, this is a bacterial infection that is passed from your vagina to the womb. Common bacteria include Group B Streptococcus, E. coli, Klebsiella, Enterococcus, Haemophilus influenzae, Chlamydia and Mycoplasma or Ureaplasma. Additional problems include rubella, flu, shingles, Lyme disease and malaria. Some infections go unnoticed until serious complications occur.

5. Trauma: Trauma such as physical accident can result in stillbirth.

6. Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP): Also known as obstetric cholestasis, this is a liver disorder that involves severe itching.

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How can women find out what is causing stillbirth?

To discover the cause, your healthcare provider will perform one or more of the following tests:

1. Blood test: Blood tests will show whether you have preeclampsia, obstetric cholestasis, or diabetes.

2. Examination of the umbilical cord, membranes and placenta: These tissues attach to your foetus. An abnormality can prevent your baby from getting oxygen, blood, and nutrients.

3. Testing for infection: The healthcare provider will take a sample of your urine, blood, or cells from your vagina or cervix to test for infection.


4. Thyroid function test: This test will determine if there is something wrong with your thyroid gland.

5. Genetic testing : Your healthcare provider will take a sample of the umbilical cord to determine if your baby has genetic problems such as Down syndrome.

Oneworldnews talked to Doctor Meenakshi Ahuja who is Director of OBG, Fortis La Femme. She is also an Academic Sec. of Delhi Gynae Forum and President of the Indian menopause society. According to her, sudden still births are most common in diabetes . So keeping your sugar in control will definitely drastically bring down this risk. Severe growth restrictions and hypertension also lead to still births so keep the baby weight healthy and prevent complications in pregnancy

Keep a strict watch on the daily movements of the baby because adequate fetal movements is a good sign in an uncomplicated pregnancy that the baby is fine, and will be in the next 24 hours.

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Jagisha Arora

MA in History and has worked as a freelance writer. She writes on issues of gender, caste and democracy.
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