In many cases, the cause of death is never discovered, even after a thorough investigation. And sometimes more than one cause contributes to a baby’s death.
Problems with the placenta, which nourishes the baby, can lead to a stillbirth in around two thirds of cases. In a placental abruption, the placenta separates too soon from the uterine wall.
Other Major Causes of Stillbirth include:
- In around 1 in 10 cases of stillbirth, the baby had a birth defect or congenital abnormality.
- Umbilical cord problems also cause stillbirths. In a prolapsed umbilical cord, the cord comes out of the vagina before the baby, blocking the oxygen supply before the baby can breathe on its own.
- A mother’s medical condition that existed before or developed during the pregnancy can lead to stillbirth. Women are at increased risk if they have type 1 diabetes or untreated diabetes before or during pregnancy. High blood pressure – particularly pregnancy-induced high blood pressure orpre- eclampsia – is another major cause of stillbirth.
- Sometimes the foetus may grow too slowly. This condition, called intrauterine growth restriction or IUGR, puts the foetus at risk of dying from lack of nutrition.
- Another cause of stillbirth can be the use of street drugs (especially cocaine)
- Severe Nutritional Deficiencies. Under-nourished women may lack the nutritional stores required to support embryo growth. A woman’s nutritional status at the time she becomes pregnant also influences the differentiation of cells in the embryo into foetal and placental cells. Foetal development is also affected by maternal nutritional status before pregnancy. It is during the first five weeks of pregnancy when the foetus develops most of its organs (e.g. heart, brain, lungs). At this stage the foetus is most vulnerable to the mother’s malnutrition. Nutritionaldeficiencies at this time may retard the growth of the foetus’s organs.
- Infection during Pregnancy. Infections known to contribute to stillbirth include fifth disease (Parvovirus B19 infection can be transmitted in blood, so if you get it during pregnancy, it may infect your baby through the placenta. In a small percentage of cases, the infection ends up causing problems that may result in the loss of the baby.), cytomegalovirus, listeriosis, and syphilis. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a member of the herpes virus family. It’s the virus most frequently passed on to babies during pregnancy. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, about 1 percent of babies are born with the infection, a condition called congenital CMV.Listeriosis is a serious infection that you can get by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. Pregnant women and their developing babies – as well as newborns, people with weakened immune systems, and the elderly – are particularly susceptible to Listeria, which can cause a blood infection, meningitis, and other serious and potentially life-threatening complications. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that’s caused by a type of bacterium. Syphilis can be transmitted to your baby through the placenta during pregnancy or by contact with a sore during birth.
- Exposure to environmental agents such as pesticides or carbon monoxide.
- If there is a history of thrombosis or pulmonary embolism either in the family or yourself, let your doctor know as certain defects in clotting can increase the risk.
- Other events, such as lack of oxygen during a difficult delivery or trauma (from a car accident, for instance), can also cause stillbirth.
| Risk Factors for Stillbirth
You may have a higher risk for stillbirth if you have any of these risk factors:
Having a stillborn baby is a painful loss for a family. Be careful when you plan a baby and for there are certain factors that can be controlled.
The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.