Stillbirth Risk Is Up for Black Women | Fit Pregnancy

Stillbirth Risk Is Up for Black Women

11.19.09 New figures show racial gap widens for moms-to-be in the risk for death of a developing baby.

Much attention is paid to prevent sudden infant death syndrome and premature births, but stillbirth is largely overlooked. A new study published in the recent issue of American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology found that African-American women are twice as likely to suffer a late-pregnancy loss as white women, ABC News reports.

Among black women, 22 out of every 1,000 pregnancies ended in stillbirth, compared with 10 per 1,000 among whites and 10.5 per 1,000 among Hispanics, U.S. National Institutes of Health researchers found. The death of a fetus after the 20th week of pregnancy is considered stillbirth.

Health concerns (such as high blood pressure and diabetes) and labor-related conditions (such as problems with the placenta or umbilical cord) were cited for the larger share of black women's stillbirth risk compared with white and Hispanic women.

Researchers said the gap between rates suggests that improvements in black women's prenatal and postnatal health could help lower the stillbirth risk among African-Americans.

Among the most common causes for stillbirth are birth defects, poor fetal growth and problems with the placenta. However, absent these factors, the reasons behind some stillbirths will always remain a mystery.

Experts urge women to instead focus on protecting against such a tragedy. Some of our proactive tips include monitoring your baby's kicks and avoiding drugs, alcohol and drugs. Stillbirth can also cause serious mental stress for parents, so please seek out emotional support from a trusted person or professional to help you cope with such a loss. The organizations First Candle and the March of Dimes are good places to start if you're looking for help or more information.

Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor.