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the birth of a dead fetus after 28 weeks of pregnancy; the fetus does not breathe after birth. Such a fetus is no less than 35 cm long and weighs no less than 1,000 g. As a statistical index, stillbirth is the ratio of the number of stillbirths to 1,000 births. Smaller fetuses of lower weight are late abortions.
There are several types of stillbirth: prenatal stillbirth, when the death of the fetus occurs before the onset of labor (after 28 weeks of pregnancy); intranatal stillbirth, when the fetus dies during birth; and postnatal stillbirth, when the fetus is born with a heartbeat, but extrauterine respiration is not established.
Stillbirth is most often observed in women who suffer from chronic infections (brucellosis, toxoplasmosis, listerellosis, tuberculosis, syphilis) and in women who had acute infections during pregnancy (angina, influenza, pneumonia). Stillbirth may result from toxemia of pregnancy, cardiovascular disease, or Rh incompatibility. Stillbirth may also result from abnormalities in fetal development, as well as from placental presentation, premature detachment of the placenta, birth complications accompanied by uterine inertia, premature bursting of the amniotic membrane, or transverse or breech presentation of the fetus. Other causes of stillbirth may be the delivery of an unusually large fetus (5,000 g or more), a narrow pelvis in the mother, improper insertion of the head of the fetus, presentation and prolapse of the umbilical cord, or coiling of the umbilical cord around the neck and trunk of the fetus.
The prevention of stillbirths is ensured by systematic care of pregnant women, by timely diagnosis and treatment of diseases of pregnancy and complicated birth, and by strict observance of the measures for protection of the mother’s health, that is, by observing all aspects of prenatal care.
REFERENCESZhordania, I. F. Uchebnik akusherstva, 4th ed. Moscow, 1964.
Persianinov, L. S. “O probleme asfiksii ploda i novorozhdennogo.” In AntenataVnaia okhrana ploda. Moscow, 1968.
Petrov-Maslakov, M. A., and I. I. Klimets. PerinataVnaia smertnost’ Leningrad, 1965.
O. K. NIKONCHIK