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Common causes of stillborn babies

Having a stillborn baby is not something most parents ever get over. Learning that your baby was stillborn because of a doctor's error or failure to diagnose pregnancy complications makes it even harder.

There are many known causes of stillbirths, but in about one-third of the cases, the cause of a stillborn birth cannot be identified.

Some of the known causes include:

-- Birth defects: About 15 to 20 percent of stillborn babies are due to chromosomal disorders.

-- Placental problems: Pregnant women who suffer from preeclampsia or placental abruptions have a 50 percent higher risk of having a stillborn child. In other cases, insufficient nutrients and oxygen can result in a stillborn baby.

-- Infections: Fetal deaths are often caused by bacterial infections that occur when the mother is between 24 and 27 weeks pregnant. These infections may not be diagnosed, which then leads to serious complications.

-- Growth restriction: Babies who do not grow as they should in the womb or who are small have a risk of dying from a lack of oxygen.

-- Other less common causes of stillborn births: maternal diabetes, umbilical cord accidents, high blood pressure, trauma and pregnancies that last longer than 42 weeks.

Some women are at a higher risk of having a stillborn than others. These risk factors include:

-- Women age 35 and older

-- Inadequate prenatal care

-- Malnutrition

-- Drug and alcohol abuse

-- Smoking

-- African-American ethnicity

Women who are diagnosed as having a high risk pregnancy should be carefully monitored for the above-mentioned causes of stillborn babies. If your physician did not identify problems that led to the death of your baby, an attorney can help you learn more about your legal options.

Source: American Pregnancy Association, "Stillbirth: Trying to Understand," accessed June 25, 2017

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