Entries in Stillborn (2)


New Pennsylvania Law Allows Birth Certificates for Stillborns

Comstock/Thinkstock(HARRISBURG, Pa.) -- Come Sept. 5, 2011, Pennsylvania will become the 31st state to offer the birth certificates for stillborns upon request.

The push for states to offer Certificates of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth started in Arizona in 1999 with Joanne Cacciatore, a trauma and grief counselor in Phoenix and mother of Cheyenne, who died about 15 minutes before she was born.

"No one else should have to go through what I felt when I called the office of records and they told me I didn't have a baby," said Cacciatore, who helped lobby for the Pennsylvania bill. "We need to extend the same compassion to women who experience the death of a baby to families who experience the death of a teenager."

A stillbirth, Cacciatore said, is no less tragic than any other death.

"Very few things are more traumatic than the experience of birth and death at the same time," she said.  "A mother then goes home to an empty room, breast milk, postpartum hormones and people's comments. It's a very biologically, socially, and emotionally traumatic experience for women."

Cacciatore said the birth certificate is deeply symbolic; much like a marriage certificate is for gay couples.  She also hopes it will incite a change in culture when it comes to talking about stillbirth.

"When people ask me how many children I have, I'll say I have four who walk and one who soars," she said. "The love of a parent transcends death.  Just because she died at birth doesn't make her any less valuable."

But the battle for birth certificates was fraught with opposition, with abortion rights groups arguing they could be used as fodder by anti-abortion activists.  However, the law, which makes the certificate available upon request following non-elective terminations, does not seek to define when life begins.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


World Health Organization: Stillbirths Affect Millions Globally

Comstock/Thinkstock(TORONTO) -- Over 2.6 million women worldwide deliver a stillborn baby each year, according to a special series published in The Lancet Wednesday.

According to the series, which offers the first comprehensive look at the heavy global burden of stillbirths around the world, more than 7,300 stillbirths occur every day.

The World Health Organization defines "stillbirth" as fetal death after 28 weeks of pregnancy.

Ninety-eight percent of stillbirths happen in low- and middle-income countries, and nearly half of them occur during childbirth, particularly among women who do not have access to basic medical services.  But even in wealthy countries, one in 200 pregnancies results in a stillbirth.

Stillbirth rates vary dramatically, both among and within nations.  Collectively, Pakistan, India, Nigeria, China and Bangladesh account for half of stillbirths worldwide.  In India, rates vary by state, from 20 to 66 per 1,000 births.

Within the United States, which has a national rate of three stillbirths per 1,000 births and ranks 17th out of 193 countries, non-Hispanic blacks experience double the stillbirth rate of white women.

Ways to prevent these deaths are relatively simple and well-known, and the series' authors conclude that global use of 10 interventions could prevent 45 percent of stillbirths.  The availability of comprehensive emergency obstetric services alone, which can prevent complications at the moment of childbirth, could prevent nearly 700,000 stillbirths, according to the series.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio