What is the definition of a stillbirth?

Stillbirth refers to the death of a baby before or after delivery. While the definition can vary, in the United States, a stillbirth refers to the death of a baby of at least 20 weeks gestation. 

What is the difference between stillbirth and miscarriage?

  • Stillbirth- refers to the birth of a baby who has died before delivery when the pregnancy has progressed for more than 20 weeks
  • Miscarriage- a pregnancy that ends, on its own, before 20 weeks of gestation 

What are the different types of stillbirth?

Stillbirth is further classified as either early, late, or term, depending on the number of pregnancy weeks. 

  • Early stillbirth- occurs between 20 and 27 completed weeks of pregnancy.
  • Late stillbirth- occurs between 28 and 36 completed weeks of pregnancy. 
  • Term stillbirth- occurs between 37 or more completed weeks of pregnancy. 

How often does this occur?

In general, stillbirth is uncommon. During 2013, 1 in 216 births was a stillbirth. In Australia, 1 in 120 newborns will be a stillbirth or considered as a newborn death. In the U.S. today, 1 in 160 pregnancies end in stillbirth, which is approximately ten times that of SIDS. (mommyinterrupted.org)

What causes a stillbirth?

The exact cause or dangerous that lead to risk increase that may lead to stillbirth is undefined and following are some common risk factors in developed countries:

Congenital anomalies: the abnormal development bas occurred from conception or early stage in pregnancy. The common reasons for this is the chromosome mutations or structural problems.

Premature birth: if the birth is extremely early, the baby might be too immature to survive and might directly lead to stillbirth. The possible reasons including infection and maternal medication.

Problems with the placenta or cord: maternal diabetes and high blood pressure might lead to placental problems that could result in placenta impairment and stillbirth in the end. Placental abruption occurred when bleeding happens between placenta and the wall of the womb and the baby may stop breathing due to lack of blood supply.

Fetal growth restriction: for babies who are of higher risk of stillbirth result from chromosomal abnormalities, smoking and maternal medical conditions. And these are difficult to be diagnosed through routinely antenatal care.

Maternal medical conditions: under this condition, maternal health problems including diabetes, renal diseases, thyroid disorders, cardiac disease and obstetric cholestasis may eventually rise the risk of stillbirth. 

For more information about stillbirths, click here.