Each year, more than 25,000 babies are stillborn in the U.S., and more than a third of the time, doctors have no idea why.
They do, however, know who is at risk. Black women suffer the most stillbirths, but women 35 and older are also at a much higher risk. Obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure are all contributing factors in the death of a newborn.
In response to the mystery still surrounding stillbirths, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is calling for doctors to perform more autopsies on stillborn babies. Unfortunately, this is a difficult thing for doctors to ask grieving parents. Even worse, insurance often will not pay for autopsies, so parents may be forced to spend up to $1,500. And in many cases, even an autopsy does not provide all the answers they need.
Doctors in the UK are also working to end stillbirths. The Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society (Sands) estimates that in one year, nearly 6,500 babies in the UK die at an early stage a rate that has not dropped in the last decade. A survey done by Sands found that almost half of the 270 grieving parents (48%) did not feel that everything possible was done to save their baby's life. Over a third of the women said they felt they were rushed through appointments, and would have liked better antenatal care. In response to the high rates of stillbirths, and the reported frustration of bereaved parents, Sands is calling for more midwives, increased funding of antenatal and maternity care, and more research into the causes of death.
Call for autopsy to unravel tragedy of stillbirth [AP]
Research needed into causes of stillbirth, charity warns [Telegraph]
Stillbirth rate 'still too high' [BBC]
Our baby girl 'died in our arms' [BBC]
Doctors call for Autopsies to Understand Stillbirth [Babble]
Image via American Pregnancy Association