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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Once you have had one still birth, what are the statistics of having another one?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Louise Johnson

    Health Professional

    As Chief Executive Officer for the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority I am involved with administering aspects of the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008. With … View Profile

    It will depend on your individual circumstances and health, your treating doctor can advise you about this and refer you if need be to a fertility specialist.

  • Dr David Moore

    Gynaecologist, Gynaecologist - Infertility (IVF) Specialist, Obstetrician

    David received a solid foundation to training in tertiary obstetric units and has developed skills in the management of complex and high-risk pregnancies and deliveries. … View Profile

    The risk of recurrence of stillbirth is thankfully very low although, as a group, it is slightly higher than it is for couples who have not suffered a stillbirth.  A more specific risk, for a particular couple, depends largely on the underlying cause, if this can be determined.

    When a couple suffer a stillbirth, part of their management by health care providers, in addition to offering support, counselling, and managing the mother's physical health, is a full clinical investigation into possible causes of the baby's death.

    These include:

    1. blood tests for the mother
    2. screens for infection for the mother and baby
    3. amniocentesis (a sample of fluid from around the baby) - for accurate information about infection and chromosomes
    4. microscopic examination of the placenta
    5. anatomical examination of the baby - that is, an autopsy
    Stillbirth is truly awful and painful experience, and it is hard and often very distressing to have a conversation about the autopsy of a precious child.  But the aim of the autopsy is to provide the parents with as much information as possible; not just to try to give an answer about "what happened?", but also to shed light on the risk of recurrence.  If an autopsy is declined by the grieving parents, other tests such as X-rays or MRI's can be done instead, although they do not give as much information.

    Sometimes, birth defects are found that were not (or cannot) be diagnosed before birth.  Depending on the particular defect, there may be a known risk of recurrence.

    Other times, placental problems may be found.  Again, these may have a known risk of recurrence and may be able to be monitored for in the next pregnancy.

    Sometimes (in fact, around 50% of the time), no specific cause for a baby's death can be found, even after a full autopsy.  However, grieving parents can be told that, in this situation, the risk of another stillbirth in the next pregnancy is not significantly higher than for a “low risk” couple who have never suffered a stillbirth (that is, less than 1%). 

    I hope you find this information useful. 

    An excellent resource is available at

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