What is Stillbirth?

What is Stillbirth?

Stillbirth is the birth of a baby who is born without any signs of life at or after 20 weeks pregnancy or weighing more than 500g. The baby may have died during pregnancy (called intrauterine death), labour or birth.

What causes a baby to be stillborn?

Stillbirth causes can greatly vary and they are not always identifiable. However, we do know of some factors that may lead to stillbirth:

  • A baby did not grow enough in the uterus.
  • A genetic or physical defect in the baby. This means the baby’s brain, heart or other organ has not developed properly.
  • Heavy bleeding after 24 weeks of pregnancy. This can happen when the placenta begins to separate from the lining of the uterus. It is called a placental abruption.
  • Pre-eclampsia, which can reduce blood flow to the baby via the placenta. This condition is associated with placental abruption.
  • An illness suffered by the mom, such as diabetes, the liver condition obstetric cholestasis, or a blood-clotting problem.
  • A problem with the way the baby is born. A baby’s shoulders may get stuck as he/she the birth canal (shoulder dystocia), severely reducing oxygen flow to the baby.
  • Infections, such as listeriosis, salmonella or toxoplasmosis.

Infants Affected

In the Canada, there are 3000 stillbirths yearly. Roughly 8 babies are born still every day.  This number has been stagnant for over 20 years and there are no plans in place to reduce it.


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