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Call for Autopsy to Unravel Tragedy of Stillbirth

Call for Autopsy to Unravel Tragedy of Stillbirth

In this photo provided by the Owen family, Rob Owen holds his stillborn daughter Clare Elizabeth Owen, March 7, 2008, at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md. This photo was taken by the mother, Erin Fogarty Owen, from her hospital bed. (AP Photo/Erin

Lauren Neergaard / AP

March 02, 2009

WASHINGTON – Adding to the devastation of her daughter Clare being stillborn is the fact that Erin Fogarty Owen doesn’t know why: What went wrong in a pregnancy that seemed textbook? And that unknown means Owen is facing her new pregnancy with as much fear as joy, repeating what she calls sanity sonograms for reassurance that this baby’s still fine.

More than 25,000 U.S. babies a year are stillborn, and in more than a third of the cases doctors can’t find an explanation. New guidelines for obstetricians aim to help change that with a too often taboo recommendation: Gently urge more parents to accept an autopsy to help unravel this mystery killer, so that maybe doctors can start preventing it.

Even an autopsy doesn’t always give an answer. It didn’t explain why Clare Owen died.

The hope is that if more are performed — and done better, to the same set of standards — scientists might finally have enough tests to compare and uncover risk factors that doctors today know nothing about.

“We need some answers,” says Owen, of Arlington, Va. “It all starts at the bedside of the grieving parent who’s just been told her baby is dead.”

The new guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists come as bereaved parents and child advocates are pushing to break the silence that surrounds those deaths.

“People don’t want to frighten their patients near the end of pregnancy,” says Dr. Ruth Fretts of Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates and the Harvard Medical School, who led the new guidelines. “So basically the issue about late stillbirth is generally not brought up. We’ve been afraid to talk about it.”

Among Fretts’ top questions: Should older and other higher-risk mothers be induced before their due dates? And some doctors order women to count their babies’ kicks in late pregnancy while others don’t. Should they, and what tests are needed to tell if dwindling movement means trouble or a false alarm?

“My dream of being a mother will soon be here,” Owen signed off her online journal at 2:39 a.m. on March 7, 2008, while feeling early contractions.

“My God, how do I tell you the news?” is the next entry, on March 24.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 6 years ago


    I believe not enough research has been done on the role of vaccines and SIDS, or the possible negative outcomes of the flu vaccine during pregnancy. Pregnant women are still being given full-dose mercury-containing flu vaccines, unless your obstetrician is one who specifically seeks out the limited supply of mercury-free vaccines. Mercury is known to cross the placenta. Mercury is a horrible neurotoxin. Please note I didn't state I was anti-vaccine or state vaccines are the definitive cause of anything, but that I do not believe enough research has been conducted to rule out them as a potential cause of problems.

  • Here_s_lookin_at_mckensey_max50


    almost 6 years ago


    Gabriella Ellen Collier

    07/06 I was five month along, went to the dr. for a routine check up. 12 hrs. later my baby was no longer in tow. 1pm in the afternoon I was told I was dilated to 1. Still to this day I don't understand, the extreme reaction, from being dilated to 1 to sending me to the perientologist. Yet by the time I got there, which was within an hour, as I felt the need to pick up my husband.
    Well I was said to be even further along in the dilation process. They began a process of stopping the dilation process through drugs, intravenously, this was around four pm. The perientologist. he took a sample of the fluids surrounding my baby, for testing. He said he would send the fluid in for testing, telling me and my husband, that it did not look good, in his experience, from the odor in which he was picking up~ A few hours later, they had discontinued the intravenous drugs for stopping the dilation and contraction process. To beginning the drug induced, process of delivery, to deliver a anatomically perfect baby, alive, verified by the autopsy. Only thing said that was not right about my baby "Gabriella Ellen Collier" was she was said to have pneumonia present in her (how can this be when she was said to have no lungs?) nebula's.
    Also said was that there was e coli present in the fluids surrounding her in the sack. I thought this fluid regenerated it's self continually? I have too many questions unanswered in this~ If anyone of a Medical background reads this and say's to themselves something is not quite right, about this recount as remember this was a ordinary office visit. Contact me at;

  • Haha_nathan_max50


    almost 6 years ago


    I feel sooo bad for these parents,I lost my 5th child(he was our first son) to SIDS ,something else noone knows what causes. I wish them all the luck with this next pregnancy! God bless.....btw. my 6th and last child turned 12 yesterday(hes a big BOY now):-)

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Account Removed

    almost 6 years ago

    So sad.

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