Fetal Deaths in Utero

Causes of Fetal Deaths in Utero

Fetal deaths in utero (stillbirth) occur when an unborn baby dies during the pregnancy, usually after 20 weeks of gestation. While stillbirths are relatively rare, occurring in approximately 1 in every 160 pregnancies, they are the leading cause of infant death in the United States. There is no single cause for a fetal death in utero, but a variety of factors can contribute to the loss of a baby.

Maternal factors:

  • Maternal medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and lupus.
  • Chronic maternal stress.
  • Maternal substance abuse.
  • Poor nutrition.

Pregnancy factors:

  • Placental abruption.
  • Uterine rupture or defects.
  • Umbilical cord accidents.
  • Infection.

Fetal factors:

  • Genetic abnormalities.
  • Congenital (present at birth) anomalies.
  • Premature birth.

In the majority of stillbirth cases, the cause is unknown, making them more difficult to prevent. It is important to consult with your doctor about any risk factors you may have that could contribute to a stillbirth. Additionally, regular prenatal care is essential to detect and address any medical issues during pregnancy that could increase the chance of feta demise in utero.