Losing a child is devastating for any parent. And stillbirth, which is a pregnancy loss after the 20th week, happens in 1 out of 160 pregnancies, making it more common than you think. But the results of a groundbreaking research from Australia can hopefully prevent stillbirths from happening in the future.
They discovered what causes stillbirth
Researchers at Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) in Australia have found that stillbirths are possibly caused by a deteriorating placenta. And they’re also trying to develop a way of detecting the condition at an early stage so that stillbirths can be prevented.
Dr. Roger Smith, one of the researchers, shares, “It certainly is the most exciting project I’ve been involved in so far, with the potential to influence people’s lives around the planet.”
He added that stillbirths have something to do with how the placenta ages, adding that there are certain cases where the placenta can age prematurely, which cuts off the nutrients and oxygen being provided to an unborn child, causing a stillbirth.
The results aren’t only limited to stillbirth
Based on the results of their study, Dr. Smith and his colleagues are also developing a means to detect as well as prevent stillbirths from happening.
“If a baby is too early in pregnancy to be delivered, we may be able to give drugs that inhibit that enzyme to slow the ageing of the placenta, and allow the baby to stay in the uterus until it is likely to survive when it’s born,” their research says.
Dr. Smith adds, “It’s possible that if we develop different ways of stopping this enzyme working to cause damage, it may lead to lower levels of aging in other tissues and perhaps even healthy life extension.”
“I think it’s really important for mums of stillborn babies to understand that it’s not their fault,” Dr. Smith adds. “This is something that’s happened to the placenta; they had very little or no control over it. There was nothing they could do to prevent it. So they shouldn’t feel guilt about it.”
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