ABC News has published the results of a study that found women from certain ethnic backgrounds may be at a higher risk of experiencing a stillbirth. For example, the study found that women born in South East Asia are 27% more likely to experience stillbirth than women born in Australia.
The underlying cause of the increased risk is thought to be differences in the ageing process of the placenta.
The study concluded that the risk of stillbirth for a South Asian mother at 39 weeks was equivalent to an Australian-born mother at 41 weeks.
“We’re expecting there may be changes to widely accepted standards of antenatal care in the near future”
At Catherine Henry Lawyers, we have extensive experience investigating the circumstances leading up to stillbirths and whether they could have been prevented. One aspect of this is whether treatment provided to the expectant mother was in accordance with widely accepted standards of care.
It is widely accepted there should be medical interventions if a mother reaches 41 weeks and hasn’t gone into labour naturally — due to the increased risk of stillbirth. In light of this study, this general rule may need to be applied differently to mothers of different ethnicities.
We’re expecting there may be changes to widely accepted standards of antenatal care in the near future. This would ensure that a mother’s ethnicity is a relevant consideration in assessing when a pregnancy reaches full term and the risk of stillbirth.