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What is Stillbirth?

Stillbirth is the term used to describe the loss of a pregnancy after the 20th week of pregnancy, due to natural causes. Stillbirths occur in nearly one in 200 pregnancies in the United States every year.

If you are pregnant and have concerns about stillbirth, ask your health care provider if there are special ways he or she wants you to track movement.

What Causes a Stillbirth?

A still birth can be caused by complications during labor or delivery. Other causes of stillbirth include:

  • birth defects in the baby
  • problems with the placenta or umbilical cord
    • The placenta and umbilical cord are the baby’s "lifeline" for oxygen and nutrients.
    • If there is a problem in the placenta or umbilical cord, blood, oxygen and nutrients may not reach the baby.
  • maternal illnesses or conditions which may sometimes affect pregnancy.

In at least half of all cases, the cause of stillbirth is unknown.

Symptoms of Stillbirth

In some cases, the mother may notice a decrease in the movement or kicking of the fetus. In these cases, the health care provider uses an ultrasound, a machine that uses sound waves to create a picture of the fetus, to learn more about its health.

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