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In decline, stillbirths continue to devastate

from The New York Times

Though stillbirths have declined sharply since the 1940s, they remain very much with us, and not just among women who are poor or poorly educated or lack access to good medical care. Even under the best of circumstances, sometimes babies just don't make it. And, as Dr. Zoe Mullan and Dr. Richard Horton wrote recently in the British medical journal The Lancet, "The grief of a stillbirth is unlike any other form of grief." Adding to parental devastation is the usual mystery of why a stillbirth occurred. Dr. Robert Goldenberg, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Drexel University College of Medicine, has suggested that a potentially preventable cause is infection, especially untreated periodontal disease, which should be corrected before a woman becomes pregnant. Studies thus far have not shown a clear benefit of periodontal treatment during pregnancy. Still, when a blood-borne infection from any cause is diagnosed, treatment with antibiotics may reduce the chances of a stillbirth. more

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