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.
- blood tests for the mother
- screens for infection for the mother and baby
- amniocentesis (a sample of fluid from around the baby) - for accurate information about infection and chromosomes
- microscopic examination of the placenta
- 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 www.marchofdimes.com/loss/stillbirth.aspx
Report this post
You must be a HealthShare member to report this post.
to your account or
now (it's free).