How does stillbirth happen?

Are you ever worried about stillbirth? If yes, worry no more. In the next few paragraphs, we would discuss everything you need to know about stillbirth and how it happens.

Defining Stillbirth

Before delving into how it happens, it is essential to define what stillbirth is. By definition, a stillborn birth refers to the delivery of a deceased fetus at 20 weeks or more gestation.

Types and Causes of Stillbirths

There are two types of stillborns; intrauterine fetal death (IUFD) and neonatal death. IUFD occurs when the fetus dies before delivery while neonatal death occurs within 28 days after birth.

Several factors cause still births some of which include:

Fetal Factors

Fetal factors that contribute to fetal hypoxia in pregnancy may lead to Intrauterine fetal demise (IUFD). These factors could be genetic anomalies, infections from viruses like Zika virus(1), metabolic disorders with mutations in Krebs Cycle enzymes involving oxidative phosphorylation such as Leigh syndrome(4), thrombophilia- clotting factor mutation in Factor V Leiden (2)

Placental Factors

The placenta supplies oxygen and nutrients from mother-to-fetus circulation via blood flow through vessels known as chorionic villi embedded in the uterus lining during pregnancy.
Any abnormality along these lines may affect this supply.
Placental abruption untreated causes an overreaction from our innate immune system causing inflammation thus reducing placental blood flow leading into hypocarbia and acidemia.(3)

Maternal Factors

Factors affecting quality preprogrammed maternal programming for fetal adaptation such as diseases – Diabetes Mellitus Type I & II induces diabetic microangiopathy III most prominent pathogenesis agent . Other conditions could lead to stress inducing coagulation processes limiting blood flow such as Antiphospholipid syndrome(APS) which is a misfiring of blood clotting factors.

Finally, smoking and usage of illicit drugs are known to contribute to still birth rates with increases in incidence due to intrauterine fetal hypoxia resulting from restricted placental growth.(5)


Diagnosing the cause of still births involves several tests such as ultrasound. Stillbirth caused mostly due to genetic mutations can not usually be detected by prenatal screening methods other tests needed include MRI or genetic testing.


Treatment options after diagnosis would depend on the specific causes; Fetocide induction for fetus without viability alongside cesarean section delivery is widely practiced rather than expectant management when there’s a risk of acidaemia . Although maternal Methotrexate therapy has also been used depending on individual circumstances where chorionic villus sampling reflects internal inconsistencies.

Additionally, Physiological responses caused by inflammation induced through chronic diseases must regard current thresholds for therapeutic success while balancing side effects that might vary individually.

Stay aware and healthy!

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