Diabetes in the mother, especially, poses potential dangers for the fetus. "A poorly controlled diabetic is a very dangerous situation for the fetus, but if you have a well controlled diabetic, outcomes tend to be about the same as if you don't have diabetes," said Silver, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Utah School of Medicine.
The study is published in the Dec. 14 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
A second study in the same journal analyzed risk factors for stillbirth that can be identified before a woman becomes pregnant. Having a prior stillborn baby, having prior miscarriages and not having other children were all associated with added risk.
Women with diabetes had 2.5 times the risk of stillbirth and women aged 40 and older had 2.4 times the risk of stillbirth as women aged 20 to 34.
Having an AB blood type, smoking in the three months before pregnancy, overweight/obesity and a history of drug addiction were also associated with higher risks.
"Several lifestyle factors that are modifiable impact the risk of stillbirth," noted Dr. George Saade, a professor and chief of obstetrics and maternal fetal medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. "Those include smoking, overweight/obesity and drug use. Women who are planning a pregnancy should look at all the modifiable factors they can improve on to be in the best condition possible when they start the pregnancy."
Black women are also at higher rate of stillbirth than white or Hispanic women, and the new research is starting to uncover some explanation for the disparities, noted Dr. Jay Iams, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Ohio State University Medical Center.
Black women are more likely to experience an "early
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