U.S. to Probe Cause of Stillbirths

Project establishes five research, data collection centers

TUESDAY, Nov. 25, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- A major national research effort to determine the extent and causes of stillbirth has been launched by the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Each year, more than 26,000 American women experience a stillbirth, which is the death of a fetus at 20 or more weeks of pregnancy. The number of reported stillbirths equals that of all infant deaths combined.

However, information on stillbirths has been difficult to collect because the criteria for reporting them vary from state to state and fetal death certificates are not required.

The new effort includes nearly $3 million to fund the Stillbirth Research Collaborative Network, consisting of five research centers in the United States and an independent data center to collect and analyze stillbirth statistics.

Along with collecting data, the 5-year research project will include studies to determine the causes of stillbirth and will develop standardized research guidelines for reporting and investigating stillbirths.

While some causes of stillbirth are known -- including diabetes or high blood pressure affecting the mother -- the cause of more than half of all stillbirths is unknown.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about stillbirth.

SOURCE: U.S. National Institutes of Health, news release, Nov. 19, 2003
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