Wednesday 21 March 2018

'Less than half Irish parents can identify risk factors associated with stillbirth' - survey

One in 238 babies delivered in Ireland involve a stillbirth. Stock photo
One in 238 babies delivered in Ireland involve a stillbirth. Stock photo
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

LESS than half Irish parents surveyed were able to identify any risk factors associated with stillbirth.

The shocking revelation came in new research conducted by two Irish experts who work closely with families affected by the loss of babies during pregnancy.

The research by Dr Keelin O'Donoghue and Dr Daniel Nuzum was published to mark the International Stillbirth Association (ISA) Conference in Cork.

One in 238 babies delivered in Ireland involve a stillbirth.

Dr O'Donoghue, a University College Cork (UCC) lecturer and the conference organiser, warned that the research underlined the need for greater education over stillbirth and the risk factors associated with it.

“This study is timely, as it highlights the need in Ireland for more discussion, more education and more openness in general about stillbirth,” she said.

“As reduced foetal movements is the focus of much global attention as a stillbirth risk factor, the lack of knowledge in this study is concerning."

"Improved public health initiatives and antenatal education are necessary to increase awareness of stillbirth risk factors and to improve care and monitoring during pregnancy."

"Furthermore for those who have had a stillbirth, robust investigation is important to identify and minimise risk in subsequent pregnancies”.

The study found that 56pc of Irish parents questioned as part of the research were unable to identify risk factors associated with stillbirth.

Just 17pc of people were aware of the incidence rate of stillbirth in Ireland.

However, 54pc personally knew of someone who had suffered a stillbirth.

Half of respondents (53pc) believed that the cause of stillbirth was due to a problem with the baby, 39pc thought it was due to a problem with the mother while 31pc believed stillbirth occurred as a result of the care provided to the mother.

Dr Nuzum said it was clear that public perceptions were very important over the issue of stillbirth.

“The attribution of the role of care provided to the mother as a cause for stillbirth by one in three respondents suggests that the respondents in this study attribute blame to healthcare staff for stillbirth," he said.

"From the perspective of healthcare staff, this finding is consonant with other studies where healthcare providers experience feelings of guilt, sadness and anxiety contributing to the personal and professional burden that can be experienced by healthcare staff following adverse perinatal outcomes such as stillbirth."

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