Posts Tagged ‘stillbirth’

Ending preventable stillbirths

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

lancet 1-19 stillbirth (002)It is impossible to put in to words the unimaginable pain a family experiences when a stillbirth occurs. The loss and void it creates can never be filled. Even in today’s world, stillbirths happen far too often.

Stillbirth is when a baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy (although in some parts of the world the gestational age varies).

Did you know…

Worldwide:

  • At least 2.6 million babies are stillborn every year.
  • Almost 50% of stillbirths occur during labor – 1.3 million each year.
  • Every day, 7,300 women lose their babies due to stillbirth in the last 3 months of pregnancy.
  • Two-thirds of all stillbirths occur in 10 countries.

In the U.S.:

  • Stillbirth affects about 23,600 babies each year.

What’s being done?

The Lancet, the prominent British Journal, has just launched a Series, “Ending Preventable Stillbirths” which spotlights the serious problem of stillbirth. They also offer much hope: one in four stillbirths could be prevented by increasing access to interventions. By knowing specific risk factors and providing women with targeted prenatal care, the rates of stillbirth can be decreased. The Series’ goal is 12 or fewer stillbirths per 1,000 births in every country by 2030.

The March of Dimes joins our many colleagues in support of The Lancet Series. Edward R.B. McCabe, MD, PhD, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at the March of Dimes says “The targeting of modifiable risk factors in adolescence and before and during pregnancy identified in the Series—including maternal infections such as malaria and syphilis, non-communicable diseases, nutrition and lifestyle factors, advanced maternal age and prolonged pregnancy—have the potential not only to prevent stillbirth, but also to reduce death and disability from a range of other causes that share these same risks.”

To learn more about stillbirths, including risk factors, treatments, causes, tests after the birth, and whether you can have a healthy baby after having had a stillbirth, see our article.

The Lancet Series is the start of a much needed path to reducing preventable stillbirths. So many moms, dads, babies and families will be forever grateful.

Note: The March of Dimes receives many emails from women who have suffered a stillbirth. We offer bereavement materials to families in an effort to help them cope with their loss. If you or someone you know has suffered the loss of baby and would like our free bereavement materials, contact AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Your story matters to us.

Living with loss

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

yellow butterflyFor families that suffer from the unspeakable pain of losing a baby, their grief continues for a lifetime. It may ebb and flow; it may be more acute at anniversaries or when something triggers a memory. It may even seem to be out of mind for periods of time, but it is never gone completely. A woman starts loving her baby from the moment of conception and this love continues throughout her entire life. Similarly, the feelings of sadness and loss continue because a parent’s love has no end.

At the March of Dimes, women have written to us after suffering a miscarriage or stillbirth, asking when they will “get over” the loss of their baby. This is a question that is impossible to answer. Your life will go on – all the chores, jobs, responsibilities and even parties continue. But, the reminders will be there always, with the sadness and deep disappointment to go along with it.

I know a woman who lost her baby boy 31 years ago. She had tried for years to become pregnant, so her pregnancy was an especially joyous time for her. The immense happiness was followed by intense grief on the day of her son’s birth, as he lived for only a few hours. Even though she eventually went on to have a healthy baby, she still mourns the loss of her son. She marks her son’s birth and death every year, and continues to remember him. Her pain is palpable, even though so many years have gone by since that heartbreaking time.

Acknowledging and talking about the loss of her baby has helped her to know that her son was real, and that her grief is legitimate. She had bonded with her baby from the moment she learned she was pregnant. To ask her to forget about this tiny person would be ridiculous.

The pain of losing a baby is one that many women struggle with for life. Perhaps it is because the baby never got the chance to grow up and follow his dreams. Or, maybe it is because the mom is denied the natural desire to nurture her child and watch him grow up. Losing a child is like a double wallop- you lose your child and the dreams that go along with him.

It’s so unfair.

If you have suffered a pregnancy or infant loss, you may want to reach out to others who will understand your unique pain. You may find a local support group in your area, or you can join our online community, Share Your Story where you will meet other women who know what living with loss is all about. You are not alone.

The March of Dimes has written a booklet called From Hurt to Healing to help families understand their grief. It explains grief and how men and women grieve differently. It talks about how to deal with your feelings, tells you how to ask for help, how to deal with family and friends, how to help other children understand. And it suggests ways to remember your baby. Two other booklets, What Can You Do? and When You Want to Try Again are part of a packet the March of Dimes offers free to bereaved parents who have suffered a loss. If you would like to receive a packet, send your name and address to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

You will never forget your baby, but in time the power of love will help you find the strength to move forward and love again.

 

Comments or questions? Send them to AskUs@machofdimes.org.

View posts in the series on Delays and Disabilities: How to get help for your child.

 

Is unpasteurized milk safe?

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

milkRaw milk and milk products from cows, goats, and sheep can transmit life-threatening bacterial infections. In a new policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises pregnant women, infants and children to consume only pasteurized milk, cheese and other milk products, and supports a ban on the sale of raw milk in the U.S.

The policy statement, “Consumption of Raw or UnpasteurizedMilk and Milk Products by Pregnant Women and Children,” published in the January 2014 Pediatrics (released online Dec. 16), reviews evidence of the risks of consuming unpasteurized milk and milk products in the U.S., especially among pregnant women, infants, and children.

“Consumption of raw milk or milk products can result in severe and life-threatening illnesses such as miscarriage and stillbirths in pregnant women, and meningitis and blood-borne infections in both young infants and pregnant women,” said Yvonne Maldonado, MD, FAAP, the lead author of the policy statement. AAP asserts that numerous data show pasteurized milk provides the same nutritional benefits as raw milk, without the risk of deadly infections including Listeria, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Brucella and E. coli.

The AAP supports the position of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other national and international associations in endorsing the consumption of only pasteurized milk and milk products for pregnant women, infants, and children. The AAP also endorses a ban on the sale of raw or unpasteurized milk or milk products in the U.S., including certain raw milk cheeses. For more information, click on this link.

When your baby is overdue

Monday, September 30th, 2013

bellyThe average healthy pregnancy is around 40 weeks. Some babies come earlier and others run later. A pregnancy that lasts longer than 42 weeks is called a post-term pregnancy.

Dr. Siobhan Dolan discusses overdue pregnancies in the book Healthy Mom Healthy Baby. Here is an excerpt from the book.

“Although many post-term babies are healthy, some risks do start to increase after 41 to 42 weeks. An overdue pregnancy takes a toll on the placenta, amniotic fluid, and umbilical cord. As the baby grows larger, the chances of stillbirth and delivery injuries go up, and there is a greater likelihood that the baby will experience meconium aspiration (inhaling stool from the amniotic fluid into the lungs) or a condition called dysmaturity syndrome (in which the baby is no longer getting enough nourishment because the placenta is aging and becoming calcified).

“When a baby is overdue, the provider may do some tests to check on the baby’s health. They include:
– Ultrasound exam
– Kick count, which is a count of how many times your baby moves or kicks you during a certain period of time
– Nonstress test, in which a fetal monitor measures your baby’s heart rate for a certain amount of time
– Biophysical profile, which uses a fetal monitor and an ultrasound to score a baby on each of five factors (nonstress test, body movements, breathing movements, muscle tone, and the amount of amniotic fluid)
– Contraction stress test, which compares your baby’s heart rate at rest with the heart rate during contractions induced by a shot of oxytocin or nipple stimulation

“If these tests suggest that your baby is in good condition, you can continue to wait for labor to begin naturally. If they raise concerns, your provider may wish to induce labor or perform a c-section. Providers rarely allow a pregnancy to go beyond 42 weeks.”

Are you watching your soda intake?

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

drinking sodaThere has been an interesting debate in the media lately about New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s attempt to regulate the size of sugary soft drinks.  He says he is doing it for health reasons. Well, he is right that there is an enormous (all puns intended) portion of the population that is overweight in this country, and that’s a concern for everyone.

Obesity leads to significant health problems. Being overweight or obese during pregnancy can cause complications for you and your baby. The more overweight you are, the greater the chances for pregnancy complications. You can read about many of the problems (infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes…) here.

It’s important to get to a healthy weight before you conceive. This way you’re giving your baby the healthiest possible start. Before you have a baby, take the time to get fit, exercise and eat healthy.  Cutting out the empty calories that do you no good is a good idea. It will be interesting to watch what happens in New York. What do you think?

Lose the weight before pregnancy

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Advertisements abound these days for weight loss programs and quick fix diets. Did you eat all your favorite traditional treats over the holidays and have a cup or two of cheer? I certainly did and am now feeling like it’s time to behave – time to swap the cookies for carrots, the fruitcake for fruit.

For those of you thinking about pregnancy, it’s especially important to get your weight under control before you conceive. To know if you’re overweight or obese, find out your body mass index (BMI) before you get pregnant.  BMI is a calculation based on your weight and height.

If you’re overweight, your BMI is 25.0 to 29.9 before pregnancy. Two in 3 women (66 percent) of reproductive age (15 to 44 years) in the United States is overweight.  If you’re obese, your BMI is 30.0 or higher before pregnancy. About 1 in 4 women (25 percent) is obese.

If you’re overweight or obese, you’re more likely than pregnant women at a healthy weight to have certain medical problems during pregnancy. The more overweight you are, the higher are the risks for problems. These problems include:
• Infertility (not being able to get pregnant)
• miscarriage (when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy)
• stillbirth (when a baby dies in the womb before birth but after 20 weeks of pregnancy)
• high blood pressure and preeclampsia (a form of high blood pressure that only pregnant women get). It can cause serious problems for mom and baby.
• gestational diabetes
• complications during labor and birth, including having a really big baby (called large-for-gestational-age) or needing a cesarean section (c-section).

Some of these problems, like preeclampsia, can increase your chances of preterm birth, birth before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy. This is too soon and can cause serious health problems for your baby. (We’ll talk about how mom’s weight issues can affect her baby’s health in tomorrow’s post.)

For those women who are severely overweight, some are turning to surgery. New studies suggest that weight-loss surgery may help protect obese women and their babies from gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, overly large babies and cesarean delivery during pregnancy.

So think about staying healthy and shedding those unwanted pounds before you get pregnant. Talk with your health care provider, find a plan that’s good for you and stick to it. You’ll have a healthier and more comfortable pregnancy when the time comes.

Thrombophilias and pregnancy

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

The thrombophilias are a group of conditions that increase a person’s chances of developing blood clots. People with a thrombophilia tend to form blood clots too easily because their bodies make either too much of certain proteins (called blood clotting factors) or too little of anti-clotting proteins that limit clot formation.

Thrombophilias may pose special risks in pregnancy. Clots are more likely to develop when a person with a thrombophilia has certain risk factors, including being pregnant or in the postpartum period (up to 6 weeks after delivery)

Most women with a tendency to develop blood clots have healthy pregnancies. However, pregnant women with a thrombophilia may be more likely than other pregnant women to develop deep vein clots and certain other pregnancy complications. Even pregnant women without a thrombophilia may be more likely than non-pregnant women to develop deep vein clots and emboli. This is due to normal pregnancy-related changes in blood clotting that limit blood loss during labor and delivery. However, studies suggest that up to 50% of pregnant women who develop a pulmonary embolus (a clot in the lung) or other venous thromboembolism (a clot that breaks off and travels to a vital organ) have an underlying thrombophilia. Pulmonary embolus is one of the leading causes of maternal death in the United States.

Factor V Leiden and prothrombin mutations are the most common inherited thrombophilias and occur in about 5% to 3% of cases, respectively. Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) is the most common acquired thrombophilia. APS occurs in up to 5% of pregnant women. Aside from possible pulmonary embolus, APS also may contribute to repeat miscarriage, stillbirth, preeclampsia and poor fetal growth.

All pregnant women who have had a blood clot should be offered testing. Your provider also may recommend testing if you have a family history of VTE before age 50. Women who have had three or more miscarriages (before or after 10 weeks of pregnancy) or one pregnancy loss after 10 weeks of pregnancy may be offered testing for APS.

Some women may not need treatment, however women with an inherited thrombophilia who have a history of blood clots are usually treated with an anticoagulant during pregnancy and the postpartum period. It is important for any woman with a clotting disorder to discuss with her health care provider what treatment, if any, is appropriate for her specific case. A family health history of blood clots can make a significant impact on the treatment decision – another good reason to know your family health history.

Loss is painful

Monday, December 12th, 2011

flowerI recently read that Michelle Duggar had a miscarriage with her 20th child. While many women choose to have babies later in life, there are risks associated with pregnancy in older women and risks associated with spacing children too close together.  Sadly, miscarriage is common (as many as 40 percent of all pregnancies may end in miscarriage), but that doesn’t change the fact that losing a baby is painful.

Whether it is your first pregnancy or your last, whether you just recently learned of your pregnancy or you were many months along, whether you have a houseful of children or none, the loss of a baby is not an easy thing.

Reading about the Duggar’s loss made me think to remind you that the March of Dimes has created bereavement materials for families who have suffered a loss. We have written a booklet called From Hurt to Healing to help families understand their grief. It explains grief and how men and women grieve differently. It talks about how to deal with your feelings, tells you how to ask for help, how to deal with family and friends, how to help other children understand. And it suggests ways to remember your baby. Two other booklets (What Can You Do? and When You Want to Try Again) are part of a packet the March of Dimes offers free to bereaved parents. We hope our booklets, fact sheets, and list of resources help parents find ways to heal and think about the future.

If you would like one of these helpful and free bereavement packets, please send an email requesting it to Askus@marchofdimes.org. Be sure to include your complete U.S. mailing address.

American Diabetes Month

Monday, November 28th, 2011

The rate of diabetes continues to increase. Today, about 1 in 9 adults has diabetes. But, according to the CDC, in the next four decades, the number of U.S. adults with diabetes is estimated to double or triple. That means anywhere from 20 to 33 percent of adults could have the disease.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Racial and ethnic minority groups are the hardest hit by diabetes and its complications.

Nearly 9 out of 100 women in the United States have diabetes. About 3 out of those 9 don’t know it. It’s very important for all women to see their health provider regularly to watch for this disease and learn how to manage it.

If you have diabetes and are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, your health care provider will want to take extra special care of you. Pregnant women who have diabetes before pregnancy (preexisting diabetes) are considered to have a high-risk pregnancy. If diabetes is not well controlled, a mom and baby could face serious health complications:

  • The woman is more likely to have a miscarriage and stillbirth.
  • The baby is 2 to 4 times more likely to have a serious birth defect than other babies. Heart defects and neural tube defects are more common among babies born to women with diabetes.
  • The baby is likely to be very large (10 pounds or more). This makes vaginal delivery more difficult and puts the baby at risk for injuries during birth.

The time to act is now. Join Healthy People 2020 in support of American Diabetes Month. Organizations and individuals can work together in their community to prevent diabetes and its complications. Learn more and teach others about the dangers associated with diabetes and how to prevent them.

You have the power to prevent and control diabetes. If you already have diabetes, work to lower your risk of serious complications. If you don’t have the disease, learn if you are at risk for type 2 diabetes. To learn more about diabetes and what you can do to prevent it, read the information from the CDC.

Listeriosis harmful in pregnancy

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

You may have heard recent news about cantaloupes being recalled because they may be linked to listeriosis, a kind of food poisoning. The cantaloupes are Rocky Ford cantaloupes and were shipped nationwide by Jensen Farms.

Listeriosis is a serious infection caused by bacteria called listeria. Listeriosis most often happens from being in contact with foods that have listeria. While anyone can get listeriosis, pregnant women are about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis. In fact, about 1 in 6 cases of listeriosis happens during pregnancy.

Listeriosis is very harmful to women during pregnancy. A pregnant woman who gets listeriosis is at risk for miscarriage, premature birth and stillbirth. Listeriosis is also very harmful, even deadly, to newborn babies. Older adults and people with weakened immune systems are at increased risk of listeriosis, too.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises everyone not to eat Rocky Ford cantaloupes shipped by Jensen Farms. While most grocery stores have removed the cantaloupes from their shelves, some people may still have them in their homes. At least 18 states have reported cases of listeriosis from cantaloupes, including California, Montana, Kansas, Florida and Maryland.

To learn more about the recalled cantaloupes, visit the CDC website.