Washingtonian / Splash News Online / Courtesy Blake Geiger Blake Geiger
There are more than 3,500 cases of stillbirths per year in the United States, and more than 40 percent of those are preventable, according to a new analysis from the journal CMAJ. The report identified 1,088 stillbirths in Washington between 2011 and 2015, a rate of 3.7 per 100,000 live births.
Researchers noted that despite a slight increase from 2011 to 2015, those stillbirths accounted for about 1.4 percent of pregnancies in Washington. Over the same time, cases of miscarriage accounted for nearly three times as many stillbirths.
More than 80 percent of expectant mothers in Washington reported having had gestational diabetes, which is a condition that increases the risk of stillbirth and spontaneous premature delivery (SB) in women, according to the report. This means that the women most at risk for miscarriage and SB were most likely to give birth.
The research revealed that women with severe diabetes who develop preeclampsia or gestational diabetes, as well as those who aren’t pregnant, are significantly more likely to have miscarriages and SB.
Women with high blood pressure and previous cardiovascular disease are also at risk for stillbirth and SB. The study’s authors propose that such women make better informed choices about their pregnancies through prenatal care and counseling on healthy lifestyles, though what role diabetes should play in that is uncertain.
Published by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, this study did not identify a specific cause of death, but says that it follows with recent research indicating that stress plays a role in the stillbirths.
“Despite a number of previous studies suggesting that a large number of stillbirths occur when pregnant women report stressful events during pregnancy—including miscarriages, stillbirths, and the need for Cesarean sections—we still do not have clear evidence,” said the report’s authors.
New testing available on an outpatient basis may help doctors better understand the causes of stress during pregnancy,” said the authors, led by the department of psychiatry at King’s College London.
This is the second health report published this week in Washingtonian, which spoke with a few families to help report on their experiences trying to get help for congenital birth defects.