1 in 4 Stillbirths in the United States May Be Prevented



About 1 in every 160 pregnancies in the United States ends in stillbirth. Now, a new study suggests many of these tragedies are “potentially” avoidable.

With better prenatal and obstetric care, that stillbirth rate might improve, researchers say.

“We found that about 25 percent of U.S. stillbirths were potentially preventable,” said study senior author Dr. Robert Silver, interim chair of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Utah.

A stillbirth is the death of a fetus after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Worldwide, most stillbirths occur in low- and middle-income countries. But the United States has higher rates of stillbirth than many other high-income countries, the researchers said.

The major causes of stillbirth that might be preventable include problems with the placenta; complications such as diabetes, high blood pressure disorders, and preterm labor; and pregnancies with more than one fetus, according to the study.

Whether or not a stillbirth is potentially preventable is a very subjective concept. In reality, not all stillbirths are preventable. These are the ones we thought were most likely to be preventable, and we thought by doing this study we could start a conversation, Silver said.

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SOURCES: Robert Silver, M.D., interim chair, obstetrics and gynecology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City; Martin Chavez, M.D., chief, maternal-fetal medicine and fetal surgery, NYU Winthrop Hospital, Mineola, N.Y.; James Ducey, M.D., director, obstetrics and maternal-fetal medicine, Staten Island University Hospital, New York City; February 2018, Obstetrics and Gynecology

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