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Stillbirth and Neonatal Death - Medical Negligence Solicitors – Compensation Claims


If you have been injured in the UK by a healthcare professional including a doctor, dentist, nurse or technician in a surgery, hospital or clinic and would like to speak to a specialist medical negligence solicitor about Stillbirth and Neonatal Death without further obligation, just use the helpline. A medical negligence lawyer who deals exclusively in personal injury claims involving clinical negligence will speak to you, giving free advice and information on how best to preserve your legal right to receive compensation as a result of injuries caused by medical negligence.

Stillbirth and Neonatal Death

A stillbirth is said to happen when a fetus dies during birth or at the last half of pregnancy (past the 20th week). A neonatal death happens when an infant dies prior to being 28 days old. Stillbirths and neonatal deaths are much less common these days because of improved pregnancy care.

A stillbirth is caused by the following conditions:

  • Chromosomal problems
  • Birth defects
  • Injuries in utero
  • Maternal-fetal infection
  • Epilepsy, diabetes or high blood pressure in the mother
  • Placental detachment or poor placental ability
  • Cardiac arrest in the fetus or mother
  • Haemorrhage in the mother occurring suddenly
  • Problems with the umbilical cord

In approximately 15-35 percent of stillbirths, no reason for the death can be found. Stillbirths are traumatic for the parents and can cause postpartum depression and prolonged grief.

When an infant dies within the first 28 days of life, he is said to have died from a neonatal death. About 19,000 babies die from this cause each year in the US.

What are the major causes of a neonatal death? The most common cause is preterm birth or a fetus born before the 37th week gestation. This causes about 25 percent of all neonatal deaths. The earlier the gestational age, the greater is the chance of death. Only about a third of all infants born at 23 weeks gestation actually survive while more than 90 percent of babies born at 27-28 weeks gestation survive.

About 12 percent or more of infants born in the US are born preterm. Three types of women have the greatest chance of having a preterm birth. These include:

  • Women with multiple pregnancies
  • Women with previous preterm birth
  • Women with cervical incompetency or a uterine problem

Other causes of neonatal death secondary to prematurity include maternal high blood pressure, placental insufficiency or abruption, and smoking history. Often no cause is found and the pregnancy was healthy prior to having a preterm birth.

Complications in a neonate born prior to 32 weeks that may lead to a neonatal death include the following fetal problems:

  • Respiratory distress syndrome or RDS. The infant has immature lungs that lack surfactant that keeps the alveoli in the lungs open. The air sacs collapse, leading to neonatal death.
  • An intraventricular hemorrhage or IVH. This is bleeding in the brain that may go on to cause brain damage or death if severe or too premature.
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis or NEC. This is a serious inflammatory disease in preterm neonates that can result in bowel damage and fetal death.
  • Infections of the bloodstream. This happens because the infants have a poor immune system. They often die from massive sepsis, even if they get antibiotics.

The chances for preterm infants are improving in recent years, in part due to the use of surfactant and other lifesaving treatments for preterm infants. Steroids can be used in the few days before birth in a preterm birth so that the fetal lungs mature before the actual birth. Twenty percent of neonatal deaths are due to birth defects. The fetus can be preterm or full term at the time of birth. The use of ultrasound, chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis can identify these birth defects prior to birth.

Other causes that contribute to neonatal death include:

  • Pregnancy complications like high blood pressure or preeclampsia
  • Placental complications or cord complications
  • Lack of oxygen during the birth process

The following birth defects can result in neonatal death:

  • A heart defect. These cause about 25 percent of neonatal deaths; about 1 in 125 infants are born with some kind of heart defect.
  • Lung defects such as malformations of the lungs or immature lungs.
  • Chromosomal abnormalities such as trisomy 18 or trisomy 13, which are not compatible with life.
  • Brain and CNS defects. One type of this is anencephaly, which is also not compatible with life. It can fortunately be picked up at the time of an ultrasound.

Stillbirth Medical Negligence Solicitors

Our stillbirth medical negligence solicitors operate using the no win no fee** scheme and you will not have to fund or finance your claim in any respect. In the event that the claim is successful the other side will pay our legal charges and if we are not successful you pay nothing at all. You have nothing to lose in taking up our offer of free advice and there is no further obligation should you decide not to pursue a claim further. We offer a true professional risk free service and you will only ever deal with a qualified, specialist medical negligence solicitor who answers to the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Do yourself justice and call our offices today.


*Legal Information

The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here