(Salt Lake City, UT) The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) announced the launch of a study, Utah SOARS (Study of Associated Risk of Stillbirth), designed to help health officials learn why stillbirths occur. The study is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in partnership with the UDOH.
Each year, approximately 275 stillbirths occur in Utah and for nearly half of these, the cause is undetermined. “Examining the experiences of women who have suffered a stillbirth may fill in some of the gaps in understanding why so many stillbirths are unexplained. Knowing more about the potential causes of stillbirth can lead to recommendations, policies, and services to help prevent them,” said Nicole Stone with the UDOH Maternal and Infant Health Program.
Information for the study will be collected from women who recently experienced a stillbirth, which is defined as the in-utero death of a baby at 20 weeks of pregnancy or later.
“Stillbirth is heartbreaking for families and is far too common. It affects more than 26,000 births in the United States each year and is now more frequent than babies dying after birth,” remarked Dr. Bob Silver, chairman of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center. “Even more alarming is rates in the United States are considerably higher than in other similar high-resource countries. We are very fortunate that the UDOH received funding to perform the SOARS study.”
For one year, all Utah women who experience a stillbirth after June 1, 2018 will be contacted to participate in the SOARS. The information will be collected in Spanish and English through a mailed questionnaire. Questions cover topics such as life experiences before and during pregnancy, support services and medical tests offered in hospitals after a stillborn delivery, and grief support. The study seeks to collect data not included in medical records or on fetal death certificates.
The project will be evaluated after one year and study findings will be will be shared with other public health researchers interested in conducting stillbirth studies.
Stone remarked, “Until recently, stillbirth has been overlooked as an important public health issue. This study is a first step in making it more visible in Utah. We’re very interested in hearing women’s stories to learn how we can do more to prevent this terrible tragedy in the future.”
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Maternal & Infant Health Program