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Trying to Understanding Late-Pregnancy Loss with Intermountain Health

Dr. Jessica Page is an OB/GYN and maternal fetal medicine physician who specializes in high-risk pregnancies at Intermountain Health.

(PRUnderground) April 1st, 2024

Late-pregnancy loss or a stillbirth can be devastating to parents-to-be. A life hoped for and carried during pregnancy is lost. Understanding why stillbirth sometimes occurs is a complex topic that continues to be studied.

“Stillbirth is typically defined as fetal death at about 20 weeks of gestation or later. Miscarriages refer to a pregnancy that ends at about 12 weeks or earlier. There’s a bit of a gray area as to where miscarriage ends, and stillbirth begins,” said Jessica Page, MD, an OB/GYN and maternal fetal medicine physician with Intermountain Health.

According to the CDC, about 1 in 175 births ends is stillbirth. Each year about 21,000 babies are stillborn in the United States. In 2020, the number of stillbirths was 15 times the number of deaths due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS.

Utah statistics on stillbirth mirror the national statistics. According to the Utah Department of Health and Human Services, each year, approximately 275 stillbirths occur in Utah and for nearly half of these, the cause is undetermined.

According to Dr. Page, it’s often hard to know the precise cause of stillbirth, and there could be more than one cause, or the cause could be unknown.

“One of the most common potential causes of stillbirth is placental insufficiency or where the placenta doesn’t work well to provide the fetus with blood and oxygen. This can be due to maternal medical conditions, or if the placenta separates from the uterus before birth, or there is a blockage in the umbilical cord,” said Dr. Page. “Sometimes preterm labor occurs too early for the fetus to survive outside the womb (about 24 weeks) and leads to stillbirth.”

Safe pregnancy practices that may help reduce the risk of stillbirth

  • Don’t smoke or stop smoking if you’re pregnant
  • Do regular monitoring to ensure the fetus is growing. This is done at each prenatal visit, so make every effort to not miss any prenatal visits.
  • Call your provider if you notice any significant changes in the amount of fetal movement you feel. Especially if you’re sure you’re well hydrated.
  • After 28 weeks, it’s best for pregnant women sleep on their side, since lying flat on the back presses on blood vessels, reduces cardiac output, and can make moms feel faint if they do that for too long. Lying on your side is typically more comfortable later in pregnancy anyway.

Some research from the U.S. and abroad is indicating that by educating patients consistently and grouping several safe practices like these together, it could help reduce the risk of stillbirth by up to 25 percent.

Many Intermountain hospitals also have Cuddle Cots which are cooling units that can help lengthen the amount of time families can spend with their stillborn baby or a baby that passes away soon after delivery. The cuddle cots keep the baby’s body at a cooler temperature so they can be held longer by families.

“After a stillbirth, extra testing may help identify a cause of death. This can be really helpful, not only for families to find closure, and to help them process their varied emotions, but it also aids in our research in understanding the causes of stillbirth, so we can better learn how to prevent it,” said Dr. Page. “Primary Children’s Hospital provides autopsies for the state of Utah and are free of charge for families.”

There are community resources for parents that have experienced stillbirth such as Share Parents of Utah. This group often offers to make hand and footprint molds of a stillborn baby in the hospital.

Intermountain also has a program called AngelWatch which provides free counseling from social workers, chaplains and nurses who are professionally trained fetal bereavement specialists who can help families who receive a lethal fetal diagnosis or fetal demise. For more information call 801-698-4486 or email

About Intermountain Health

Headquartered in Utah with locations in seven states and additional operations across the western U.S., Intermountain Health is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,900 employed physicians and advanced care providers, a health plans division called Select Health with more than one million members, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. For more information or updates, see

The post Trying to Understanding Late-Pregnancy Loss with Intermountain Health first appeared on

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