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Previous Infant Death Linked to Raised Risk of Stillbirth

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Women whose first baby died within a year of birth are at increased risk for stillbirth in subsequent pregnancies, and the risk is especially high among black women, researchers report.

The new study looked at 2,483 women with previous infant death (defined as the death of a child during the first year of life) and 317,867 women whose infant survived the first year of life. Among all the women in the study, there were 1,347 cases of stillbirth during the second pregnancy, a rate of 4.2 per 1,000.

The researchers found that, overall, women with previous infant death were 2.91 times more likely to experience stillbirth in their subsequent pregnancy than those whose infants survived the first year of life.

However, black women with previous infant death were 4.28 times more likely to experience subsequent stillbirth than other black women, and white women with previous infant death were 1.96 times more likely to experience subsequent stillbirth than other white women.

Black women were 9.46 times more likely than white women to experience stillbirth, and women whose first baby died were more likely to be black, obese and smoke during pregnancy, the University of South Florida and University of Rochester researchers found.

On average, infants born to mothers with previous infant death were 293 grams smaller at birth than those born to mothers whose previous infant survived the first year of life, according to the study published in the Sept. 21 issue of BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

In addition, the investigators found, mothers who experienced previous infant death were nearly twice as likely to have complications in their subsequent pregnancy as women whose infants survived their first year -- 10.9 percent vs. 6.7 percent, respectively.

"Our findings show that there are large disparities in infant mortality rates between white and black women and highlight the need for improved public health efforts to reduce infant mortality," principal investigator Dr. Hamisu Salihu, a professor in the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of South Florida, College of Public Health, said in a journal news release. "It is important that clinicians note the potential risk for subsequent stillbirth following infant mortality when they speak with patients in the period preceding their next pregnancy."

More information

The March of Dimes has more about stillbirth.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, news release, Sept. 21, 2011

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