Much to learn about tragedy of still birth

Losing a baby in a still-birth is devastating for parents and (below) pop singer Gary Barlow, whose daughter Poppy was still-born.
Losing a baby in a still-birth is devastating for parents and (below) pop singer Gary Barlow, whose daughter Poppy was still-born.
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POP star Gary Barlow and his wife Dawn were left devastated after their fourth child was delivered still-born.

The couple’s sad news was reported last week, after the birth of Poppy on Saturday.

Gary Barlow

Gary Barlow

But the Barlows are far from alone in suffering such a tragic experience.

Still-birth rates in the UK are higher than almost every other high-income country.

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals’ midwifery matron Janet Danson-Smith says it is one of the saddest and worst things she sees in her job when parents go through such a nightmare scenario.

She added: “It’s always so sad when anybody loses a baby or child at any time. Nobody expects to lose their baby when they get to term.

“Parents have all these expectations and it is devastating. It affects the whole family.

“The natural question thing of course is to want to know why. We always investigate.

“But sometimes we never find a reason and unfortunately that can often make it even more difficult for parents.

“In Blackpool, we are involved in a North West project to carry out research into still-births and looking to see if we can improve identification of the risks.”

Despite years of research, there is still much which remains unknown about still-births and what causes them.

While problems with the placenta - which can affect the growth of the foetus - infections and congenital abnormalities are all known causes of still-births, in a third of cases, there is no known reason.

There are risk factors which can increase the chances of still-birth, but it can still occur when risks are considered low.

Janet added: “Nothing is absolute and it’s important to remember it is not in any way the fault of the woman giving birth.

“Risk factors include smoking, drinking alcohol during pregnancy - these can increase susceptibility, as can being overweight or obese or having children in later life.

“Previous caesarean sections can also increase risk, as can multiple births.

“The main message is for women to contact us as soon as they find out they are pregnant.

“So we know about them and can get them into maternity services and start monitoring their pregnancy.

“And if women have any concerns during pregnancy, for example about the baby’s movements, they should contact the maternity service as soon as possible.”

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