Definition of Stillbirth and Causes

The death of the fetus after 24 weeks of gestation. There are numerous causes for stillbirth; often the reason remains unknown.

Sometimes the obstetrician cannot detect the fetal heartbeat during a routine prenatal care visit; more often the woman notices the fetus has stopped moving. An ultrasound can confirm the death, after which the doctor induces labor to deliver the baby.

Death may also occur during childbirth. the loss of a pregnancy through stillbirth is emotionally traumatic for parents, family members, and friends.

See also ABORTION; GRIEF; PREMATURE BIRTH; SUPPORT GROUPS.

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