Stillbirth is typically defined as fetal death at or after 20 to 28 weeks of pregnancy. It results in a baby born without signs of life. A stillbirth can result in the feeling of guilt in the mother. The term is in contrast to miscarriage which is an early pregnancy loss and live birth where the baby is born alive, even if it dies shortly thereafter.

Often the cause is unknown. Causes may include pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia and birth complications, problems with the placenta or umbilical cord, birth defects, infections such as malaria, and poor health in the mother. Risk factors include a mother’s age over 35, first pregnancy, smoking, drug use, use of assisted reproductive technology. Stillbirth maybe suspected when no fetal movement is felt. Confirmation is by ultrasound.

Worldwide prevention of most stillbirths is possible with improved health systems. About half of stillbirths occur during childbirth, with this being more common in the developing than developed world. Otherwise depending on how far along the pregnancy is, medications may be used to start labor or a type of surgery known as dilation and evacuation may be carried out.

Following a stillbirth women are at higher risk of another one; however, most subsequent pregnancies do not have similar problems. Depression, financial loss, and family breakdown are some possible complications.

The term is often used in distinction to live birth (the baby was born alive, even if it died shortly thereafter) or miscarriage (early pregnancy loss). The word miscarriage is often used incorrectly to describe stillbirths.

Stillbirth. (2016, October 13). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22:35, October 13, 2016, from