For more information of confidential assistance
Call 800-306-3180

Most Stillbirths Are Preventable But Rates Remain Steady

pregnant womanThe loss of a child is one of the most difficult tragedies for a parent to face. When parents are confronted by a stillbirth, they typically suffer severe emotional and physical consequences, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Research suggests that most causes of stillbirth are preventable.

Yet, the rates of stillbirth in the U.S. haven’t been declining. This is according to new research that was recently published in The Lancet medical journal.

Stillbirth research

Each year, about 2.6 million stillbirths affect families around the world. This is defined by the death of the baby in the womb after the 20th week of pregnancy. Prior to this time, the loss of an unborn baby is referred to as a miscarriage. The research indicates that about half of all stillbirths occur during labor and delivery. Labor and delivery is a particularly dangerous time for babies because so many problems can occur.

These include placental abruption and umbilical cord problems. There are many other possible causes of stillbirth, the majority of which are preventable. This means that every year, roughly 1.3 million stillbirths occur that could have otherwise resulted in a live, healthy baby.

Possible causes of stillbirth

After parents lose a child, the healthcare provider can run tests to try to determine the cause of the stillbirth. Sometimes, the cause is never found. In other cases, stillbirth may be attributable to maternal health problems such as obesity, advanced maternal age, a maternal history of stillbirth or miscarriage, or lifestyle risk factors.

Women who are pregnant with multiples, have never previously given birth, or who have certain medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or low blood pressure may also be more likely to receive the devastating news that the baby has died in the womb.

Some of these risk factors are manageable through proper prenatal care. During prenatal care appointments, an Ob/Gyn or family physician is expected to thoroughly evaluate the mother’s health history, identify any possible risk factors for maternal or fetal health problems, and administer appropriate treatments and counseling.

When healthcare providers fail to identify risk factors, order appropriate medical tests, or recommend proper treatment, parents may be at a higher risk of losing their babies to stillbirth. Sometimes, this breach in the standard of care may constitute medical malpractice.

Legal recourse for victims of negligence

Filing a lawsuit may not necessarily be a priority for parents who have recently lost a baby. Despite the difficulty of attending to legal matters while grieving the loss of a child, it is important to consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

malpractice attorney will obtain medical records and consult with expert consultants to determine if the attending healthcare providers may have breached the standard of care and whether this breach in duty may have led to the stillbirth.

If so, the parents may choose to file a civil lawsuit against the negligent parties. Doing so may help parents obtain a sense of closure and justice for their child.