Preterm and low birth-weight infants 'sign of future stillbirth risk'

Having a preterm infant or delivering a baby that is small for gestational age (SGA) raises the risk a woman will experience a stillbirth, new maternal and newborn research has shown.

A study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology found the chance a mother will lose her second child in this way is higher if her firstborn was SGA or preterm than if she has had previous stillbirths.

Scientists discovered the link when they performed a population-based cohort study in New South Wales Australia using data from the New South Wales Midwives Data Collection and the New South Wales Perinatal Death Database.

It was found a woman who delivers her first infant prematurely has a higher risk that her second child will be stillborn than if her firstborn is full-term but SGA.

There was no significant link between stillbirth in the first and second pregnancies, it was reported.

"All factors merit improved surveillance in a subsequent pregnancy and research should address underlying factors common to all three outcomes," the authors wrote.

Baby charity Tommy's reports the stillbirth rate in the UK was around one in every 200 infants in 2008.