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Understanding What Leads to Stillbirth

Michael Becker

Giving birth to a stillborn baby is a very difficult and heart-wrenching experience. You’re probably grasping for answers–Why did it happen? How did it happen? Did I do anything wrong?

Stillbirth, which is defined as the death of a baby toward the end of the pregnancy, occurs in 1 of every 200 pregnancies. Many happen before labor but some occur during delivery.

If your baby was stillborn, you should speak with a Cleveland birth injury attorney to discuss whether medical negligence may have been a cause. If so, your Cleveland birth injury attorney may be able to help you prepare an Ohio birth injury claim.

Common Causes of Stillbirth

Although an autopsy is the best way to determine why some babies are stillborn, autopsies are not always standard procedure. However, if you would like to have an autopsy performed, your Cleveland birth injury attorney will provide assistance.

When building your case, your Cleveland birth injury attorney will assess some common factors that can lead to a stillborn delivery, including:

  • Placenta problems – mothers with conditions such as placental abruption, preeclampsia or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure are twice as likely to have a stillbirth as women who do not have these conditions. Sometimes the underlying problem that contributed to the baby’s death could be insufficient nutrients or oxygen.
  • Birth defects – chromosomal problems account for up to 10% of stillborn babies. Other causes of birth defects could be genetic, environmental or unknown.
  • Growth restriction – if a baby is small or has stopped growing at an appropriate rate, the risk of stillbirth related to asphyxia and unknown causes increases.
  • Infections – from the 24th to the 27th weeks of pregnancy, bacterial infections can lead to a stillbirth if your doctor fails to recognize and treat the infections.

Some less common causes of stillbirth include accidents involving the umbilical cord, maternal diabetes, trauma and a pregnancy that extends beyond 42 weeks. In about one-third of stillbirths, the cause is unknown, according to the American Pregnancy Association.

It’s your medical team’s responsibility to recognize and treat infections and other conditions that could lead to a stillbirth. If you were at risk of delivering a stillborn baby, you and your baby should have been closely monitored.

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