Holding a stillborn baby: does the existing evidence help us provide guidance?

Kelly A Cunningham
Med J Aust 2012; 196 (9): . || doi: 10.5694/mja11.11417
Published online: 21 May 2012

It is now less clear how parents should be advised

In Australia, stillbirth is defined as the loss of a fetus of at least 20 weeks’ gestation, or 400 g birth weight if gestational age is unknown. Every year in Australia there are 1750 stillbirths.1 Several studies have reported that stillbirth, regardless of how it is managed, can have long-lasting detrimental psychological effects on the mother. Factors such as young maternal age, more recent loss and lower education level result in greater anxiety and depression in mothers after experiencing a stillbirth.2 Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has also been reported in higher levels in mothers following a stillbirth.3 Furthermore, various factors in immediate management following a stillbirth can impact on outcomes for the parents; these include the contentious issue of parental contact with a stillborn child.

  • Kelly A Cunningham

  • School of Medicine, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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