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

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

U.S. News & World Report - Stillbirth Can Be Devastating, Unpredictable

Despite the rather obvious title of the article, I'm still impressed that U.S. News & World Report posted an article about stillbirth on their website.

The article references Dr. Alexander Heazell (mentioned in a post two weeks ago, Words from a Doctor About Stillbirth), who lost his first child, Jack, to stillbirth at 26 weeks.

The article states this:

"What is known is that stillbirths that occur before 32 weeks tend to result from different causes than those that occur later in pregnancy, said Dr. Alan Fleischman, medical director for the March of Dimes Foundation.

Factors that contribute to stillbirths earlier than 32 weeks are often similar to those that raise the risk of premature birth: smoking, alcohol use, obesity, clotting or metabolic problems and kidney or liver disease in the mother, Fleischman said.

During the final weeks of pregnancy, stillbirth is often due to a catastrophic problem with the placenta or the umbilical cord, including placental abruption, when the placenta sheers off the uterine wall, leaving the baby without oxygen and nutrients.

Little can be done to prevent these types of stillbirths, Fleischman said. But some obstetricians recommend mothers "count kicks" at the same time every day to monitor how often the fetus moves. If movement drops off noticeably, mothers should seek medical attention in the hopes of delivering a baby in distress before it's too late."

Even if I had gone into labor with Ben before he died, that knot in his umbilical cord would probably have killed him. He may have already experienced oxygen deprivation because of that knot, meaning brain damage. I will never know. So far as anyone could tell, he was normal, perfect. Even with vast quantities of research into umbilical cord knots, nothing may have saved him. Perhaps nothing would have changed his outcome, but I dearly wish I could change the outcome for someone else.

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