Every year, 26,000 babies are stillborn in America. In 2003, one of them was my son.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Stillbirth--We Need to Know More

I've said it before and I'll say it again: we don't know enough about why stillbirth occurs, and how to cut down the numbers. People are speaking up about the lack of research, the dismissal of our grief, trying to make a difference.

Kate Greenwood, a research fellow at Seton Hall's Center for Health & Pharmaceutical Law & Policy, posted on the Seton Hall Health Reform Watch blog about this very issue. Here's an excerpt of what she says; here's the link to the full post.

"While the ubiquitous pink ribbons (and pink everything else) ensure that everyone knows that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, less well known is that it is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month[1], proclaimed so by President Ronald Reagan in 1988.  As I wrote last October, about 1 in every 160 deliveries in this country ends in a stillbirth, and all too frequently no one can say why.  Stillbirth is a “largely unstudied …  problem in obstetrics.”

Encouragingly, the work of the physicians and scientists participating in the National Institute of Health’s Stillbirth Collaborative Research Network (SCRN) is beginning to bear fruit.  The August 2010 issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology included an important article in which the SCRN investigators presented their “standardized method to assign probable and possible causes of death of stillbirths based on information routinely collected during prenatal care and the clinical evaluation of fetal death.”  Rigorously defining and more accurately determining causes of fetal death will both facilitate research and have useful clinical implications.  As the authors note, “[a]ccurately assigning a cause of fetal death is critically important for counseling grieving families.”

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