WHAT IS STILLBIRTH

WHAT CAUSES STILLBIRTH?

More than half of stillbirths are classified as “unexplained”, which means that doctors were unable to identify the exact cause of death. However, there are some things that are known to cause stillbirths:

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    A genetic or physical defect in the baby (when a baby’s brain, heart or other organ fails to develop properly)

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    Ante-partum haemorrhage (bleeding) – for example, when the placenta begins to separate from the lining of the uterus (womb) before the baby is born

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    Prematurity – very premature babies may not survive the trauma of labour. This may be due to placental insufficiency resulting in lack of oxygen and nutrients getting to the baby

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    Pre-Eclampsia – many of the 1,000 babies who die each year from the effects of pre-eclampsia are stillborn

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    Rhesus Incompatibility – this causes antibodies in a mother’s blood to attack her baby’s blood cells

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    Obstetric Cholestasis (a rare complication of pregnancy which causes a build-up of bile acids in the bloodstream) – the risk of having a stillborn baby is 15 per cent greater for women who have OC than for other women

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    Pre-existing maternal medical conditions such as Diabetes

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    Infections – such as listeriosis, salmonella or toxoplasmosis

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    Immunological disorders – such as anti-phospholipid syndrome (APS)

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    Birth trauma – many stillborn babies die before labour begins, but circumstances such as shoulder dystocia (when a baby’s shoulders get stuck after the head has already been delivered) and breech delivery can increase the risks to the baby, and problems with the umbilical cord can cause a crucial reduction in oxygen during delivery, leading to stillbirth

A third of all stillbirths occur when a baby has reached full term. Multiple births (twins, triplets or more) are at greater risk (15 or 16 per 1,000 births) compared to singleton births (5 or 6 per 1,000 births).