If a pregnancy ends with a stillbirth, the woman is more likely to suffer another stillbirth in the future, according to new research published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Approximately 3.3 million stillbirths occur each year throughout the world.
Researchers evaluated more than 320,000 women for this study. Of these women, about 2,500 suffered infant death within the first year of life. About 1,350 of these women suffered stillbirth in the second pregnancy. When all factors were taken into consideration, researchers found women who experienced infant death within the first year of life were three times more likely to suffer stillbirths in subsequent pregnancies.
Caucasian women were two times more likely to suffer stillbirth in a second pregnancy if infant death occurred during the first pregnancy. African-American women were four times more likely to suffer stillbirth in a second pregnancy if infant death occurred during the first pregnancy. Infant death occurred most often in the African-American population when women were obese and chose to smoke during pregnancy.
In addition to increased risk of stillbirth, women who suffered infant death during the first pregnancy were more likely to give birth to smaller babies during a second pregnancy. Second babies were 293 grams lighter when compared to the second infant born to women who did not experience infant death during the first pregnancy.
According to Professor Philip Steer, editor for BJOG, women who experience stillbirth or infant death in the first pregnancy, “need additional support and advice concerning any subsequent pregnancies. Obesity and smoking in pregnancy are known risk factors for stillbirth [so women should] be as healthy as possible before, during and after pregnancy.”
Source: EM August, HM Salihu, H Weldeselasse, BJ Biroscak, AK Mbah, AP Alio. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 24 September, 2011.