Does Stress Lead to Stillbirths?

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Does Stress Lead to Stillbirths?

A recent study suggests doctors monitor pregnant patients’ life events

Pregnant women who experience stressful events in the year before having a baby are at increased risk of having a stillbirth, according to a recent study. The National Institutes of Health study surveyed 2,000 women in five states about stressful events, including moving, losing a job, watching a partner go to jail and having a loved one die.

In the study pregnant women who experienced five or more stressful life events were nearly three times more likely to have a stillbirth (the death of a fetus after 20 weeks of pregnancy), compared with women who had stress-free pregnancies.

The research “reinforces the need for health-care providers to ask expectant mothers about what is going on in their lives, monitor stressful life events and to offer support as part of prenatal care,” said study researcher Marian Willinger, of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

African-American women have the highest rates of stillbirth. A previous study suggested the reason for this disparity is because of higher rates of pregnancy- and labor-related complications, including diabetes, advanced maternal age, chronic hypertension and obesity.

BHM Edit Staff