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Obstetrics/Gynecology Studies Pinpoint Causes of Stillbirths

Posted by floriza in OB/GYN

Two obstetrics/gynecology studies reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association in December 2011 have pinpointed the causes of stillbirths, as well as risk factors. The data indicates that the rate of stillbirth in the United States has remained steady since 2003

The first study conducted at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City concluded that 29.3 percent of stillbirths are a result of obstetric complications. Placental abnormalities are the cause of 23.6 percent of stillbirths. Other causes, such as genetic/structural abnormalities of the fetus, infections, abnormalities of the umbilical cord, medical complications of the mother, and hypertensive disorders account for the remaining percentages. It should be noted, however, that a cause of death could not be determined with reasonable certainty in 23.8 percent of the stillbirths studied.

One in every 160 pregnancies results in stillbirth, which technically means that the fetus dies at 20 weeks or later. The United States has a higher rate of stillbirth than many other countries in the developed world.

The study found that black women who are not Hispanic have a much higher risk of stillbirth than Caucasian women. This included women who participated in prenatal care, so the researchers could not determine the reason for this difference.

The Second Obstetrics/Gynecology Study

The second obstetrics/gynecology study was conducted at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. These researchers reported that medical history put women at higher risk of stillbirth. These risk factors included a first pregnancy, obesity, AB blood type, age over 40 years, history of drug use, and/or smoking during pregnancy. Women who did not live with a partner were also found to be at greater risk.

Prenatal Care

While prenatal care is not a 100% guarantee that a woman will avoid a stillbirth, it is her best defense. Professionals in obstetrics/gynecology in New Jersey, New York, and other states provide state-of-the-art care to pregnant women, including a variety of tests. Some of the routine tests that an obstetrician or gynecologist might perform are:

  • Blood tests for diabetes, anemia, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, and other abnormalities
  • Urine tests
  • Breast examinations
  • Pelvis examinations
  • Pap smears/tests (toward the beginning of the pregnancy)
  • Blood pressure measurements
  • Uterine measurements
  • Ultrasound
  • Skin tests for tuberculosis (TB)
  • Amniocentesis to evaluate the baby for birth defects

These diagnostic tests and physical examinations by a qualified obstetrician are imperative to maintain the health of both mother and baby.


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