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What is stillbirth and how does it happen?


The enthusiasm and excitement that expectant parents in Newton feel when preparing for the upcoming birth can rebound into one of the worst experiences of their lives if there is a medical problem with the baby. If that medical problem happened because of a negligent doctor or an error made by the medical staff during the course of the pregnancy, it is made worse because it was an avoidable incident. Stillbirth can be even worse than injuries a baby or mother might have suffered, because the baby will have died before the baby was born.

Knowing the facts about stillbirth can give parents an idea as to whether an error made that led to the infant's death. If the fetus dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy, it will be referred to as stillbirth. These are rare and the majority happen prior to labor. There could be signals that the woman will notice such as a lack of movement from the fetus. Ultrasound will determine if the fetus is stillborn. In some instances, after the parents have been notified that the child has died, the woman will still have to deliver the baby adding to the mental and emotional stress. It is possible to have labor induced to avoid carrying a stillborn child to term.

Stillbirth can have numerous causes. Some are due to circumstances. Others might be present but exacerbated by a medical error. Approximately 15 to 20 percent of the babies who are stillborn have birth defects. 25 percent of stillbirths happen due to placental issues such as placental abruptions. With a placental abruption, the placenta will peel from the wall of the uterus. This causes substantial bleeding that can not only kill the baby, but the mother too. The mother's behavior such as drug use or smoking can cause placental abruption. If the placental abruption was not recognized and treated by the medical staff in time, it's possible that there can be an allegation of negligence.

While stillbirth might be viewed as an unfortunate occurrence that cannot be avoided, there are factors that could play into the stillbirth that the medical staff could have prevented had they acted appropriately in a timely fashion. Speaking to a legal professional with experience in pursuing litigation in these kinds of cases will provide information as to how viable it is and how to move forward.

Source: March of Dimes, "Stillbirth," accessed on Mar. 16, 2015

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