Stillbirths Persist in America: A Hidden Consequence of Obesity

According to new studies published online in The Lancet, stillbirths remain surprisingly common in the U.S.—about 27,000 each year—reflecting both general misconceptions about healthcare and significant disparities between demographic groups. Here's HealthDay with more details:

WEDNESDAY, April 13 (HealthDay News) -- While the rate of stillbirths in the United States has dropped over the past few decades, this tragic outcome is still a reality for far too many couples, experts say.

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As part of a series of studies published online April 14 in The Lancet, researchers report that a leading cause of stillbirth in the United States may be obesity, which can raise the risk for fetal loss.

Obese women are more likely to have diabetes and hypertension, and "these are two of the major causes of stillbirth," noted the lead author of one paper, Dr. Robert L. Goldenberg, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. "But for reasons that are not clear, above diabetes, above hypertension, obese women are still more likely to have a stillbirth [than thinner women]."

Limits on women's access to good obstetric care -- most notably for poor or minority mothers-to-be -- is another major contributing factor. "My estimate is that if all women had access to very good care, a third to half of the stillbirths in the U.S. could be eliminated," Goldenberg said.

Read the full HealthDay story at US News & World Report.

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Daniel Fromson, a former associate editor at The Atlantic, is a writer based in Washington, D.C. He writes regularly for The Washington Post. His work has also appeared in Harper's Magazine, New York, and Slate.

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