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Stillbirth: Prevalence, menstrual problems, and future health outcomes.


In Australia, the rate of stillbirth is 6.7 per 1000 births. This is equivalent to 2,107 stillborn babies each year. Established risk factors include maternal health (hypertension, diabetes), primiparity, pregnancy complications (fetal growth restriction, prolonged pregnancy), smoking, overweight and obesity, and history of stillbirth. It is already known that women who experience pregnancy complications are more likely to report a cardiovascular disease related event, such as angina, heart attack, and arrhythmia, suggesting a link between adverse pregnancy events such as stillbirth and future health (Friebert et al 2011). Lykke et al reported that women who experience a pregnancy complication including a stillbirth in their first pregnancy are twice as likely to die prematurely. In a Danish study, women with irregular menstrual cycles had an increased risk of preeclampsia, preterm birth, and prolonged pregnancy. Therefore, the characteristics of the preconception menstrual cycles may be a marker of both pregnancy outcomes and post-pregnancy health. Limited studies are available on the associations between preconception menstrual patterns and stillbirth. Similarly, there is a lack of information on changes in the physical and mental health of women who have had stillbirth, or on their GP use. We hypothesize that menstrual problems might be early indicators of increased risk of stillbirth and poorer health in the future.