from the National Stillbirth Society

The only certain risk factor for stillbirth is pregnancy.

There is no way to prevent what one can’t predict.

Sudden Antenatal Death Syndrome or SADS – another name for stillbirth - is an equal opportunity destroyer of dreams.

SADS cuts across socio-economic classes, races, religions, body types and age groups. No woman is immune.

Stillbirth is as random and equally as deadly as lightning strikes.

Stillbirth is referred to as the “last great mystery of obstetrics”.

Most stillbirths occur at or near late term – when the developing baby is well beyond the point of viability and could survive outside the womb.

Autopsies, when performed, rarely uncover any cause of stillbirth not already apparent from a physical examination of the baby and placenta.

There is no uniform stillbirth autopsy protocol in the United States.

There is no centralized repository for autopsy data that would permit the analysis and comparison of results if and when an autopsy is performed.

Rarely is the mother interviewed as a part of the post mortem instigation.

Imagine if police kept fingerprint cards in each department’s file cabinet. Crimes would never be solved, the same way stillbirth isn’t being solved because the data – when autopsies are performed - is not made available to researchers but kept at each hospital.

Technologies that offer promise of identifying life-threatening events for the developing baby are being challenged by doctors rather than studied.

Affordable fetal heartbeat monitors capable of being used at home - where over 99% of all stillborn babies die - are under development.

It is estimated two thirds of the 26,000 stillbirths that occurred last year could not determine an identifiable medical reason.

There is virtually nothing a woman can do or not do that can deliberately or inadvertently cause the stillbirth of her baby.

After suffering a stillbirth its not uncommon for close friends to become strangers and for strangers to become close friends.

One in every 115 babies is delivered dead. If deliveries were aircraft landings, Phoenix would have 4 crashes on an average day, every day.

When an airplane crashes, rescuers search for the “black box”. When a pregnancy “crashes” nobody looks for the “black box”.

Founded last year by a bereaved father, The National Stillbirth Society is the first and only stillbirth advocacy group in the United States.

We know of no significant government supported research ongoing at this time to look into the causes of stillbirth. And yet as recently as the year 2000 the federal government allocated $108,000,000 of CDC and NICHD funding for polio eradication! How many Americans died of polio that year to justify such a huge misallocation of resources?

The leading national birth defects organization doesn’t regard stillbirth as a birth defect, despite it being the ultimate birth defect. A birth defect is defined as an impairment of an essential life function! What’s a more essential life function than a beating heart?

Mothers who give birth to a still baby do not have the birth of their baby recognized in 47 of 50 states. Only Arizona, Utah and Indiana give these mothers a Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth.

A mother of identical twins, who delivers one live and one still receives a certificate of birth only for the live baby! It’s no wonder that no one is searching for a cure for stillbirth. It’s “invisible”. Official recognition for stillbirth mothers by issuance of a Certificate of Still Birth was opposed in the California Assembly this session by, among others, the American College of Obstetricians, the California Medical Association, Planned Parenthood, and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Dr. Spock is probably responsible for more dead babies – caused by telling mothers to put their babies to sleep on their tummies - than any other cause of infant death. How can we be certain stillbirth mothers aren’t getting bad medical advice too?

Crack mothers often have babies that are addicted, afflicted, and suffer some form of disability. Mothers who live a substance-free lifestyle generally have healthier babies, but they too give birth to dead babies, proving that bad things do happen to good people. Because doctors don’t know what causes two-thirds of all stillbirths they can’t tell women how to defend against having one.

Until we identify the cause, there can be no cure. Until there is a cure, there can be no peace. Women will continue to be subjected to nature’s “reproductive roulette”, wherein most are lucky…. but some don’t.

Mary Tudor was born in 1516 to Catherine of Aragon and King Henry VIII, the only child of that union to survive and grow into adulthood. Her birth was followed by a stillbirth in 1518, the sixth suffered by Catherine of Aragon.

Tutankhamun's Queen
It is known that the young couple had at least two offspring, but unfortunately they were stillborn. The mummified foetuses were found in Tutankhamun's tomb.


Author Biography
Richard K. Olsen is the founder and Executive Director of The National Stillbirth Society ( He formed it after he and his wife Sharon lost their only child Camille to stillbirth at full term on August 17, 2000. Its purpose is to “educate and agitate” for stillbirth research and reform. Olsen can be contacted at ©2002

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