Stress May Increase Risk of Stillbirths

March 28, 2013  |  
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Having a child can be stressful enough, but research from the National Institutes of Health suggests stress can cost the baby his life. In a recent study, women who reported experiencing financial, emotional or other kinds of stress in the year before delivery were more likely to have stillbirths, or death of the fetus at 20 weeks or more.

Researchers surveyed 2,000 women. Eighty-three percent of women who had stillbirths and 75 percent who had live births said they’d experienced at least one stressful life event, such as losing their job or losing a loved one. Women who reported more stressful life events in the last year were more likely to have stillbirths. Having more than one stressful life event increased a woman’s chance of stillbirth by 40 percent, and 20 percent of women who did have stillbirths reported facing five or more of these events in the previous year.

Black, non-Latina women reported more stressful events than their white, non-Latina and Latina counterparts. Researchers think this may account for the larger number of stillbirths black women experience.

Not all life events seemed to have the same effect on mothers. For example, women who’d had their partner go to jail or whose partner didn’t want them pregnant seemed more likely to experience stillbirths than women whose partners had lost their jobs.

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