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Finding the cause of your baby's death

There are some tests that can be done to find out what caused your baby’s death.

Some of these tests are done on you and some on your baby. It can help with the grieving process if you find answers, and it can help to inform your future pregnancies.

Unfortunately in one third of cases no cause for your baby’s death will be found. Some of the test results take several weeks to come back.

If you have any tests done, your obstetrician will usually arrange for you to have a follow-up appointment to get the results.

Tests may include:

Blood tests

You may be asked to take a blood tests to check for pre-eclampsia, kidney problems, liver problems, thyroid problems, diabetes, or to check for problems with clotting.

Tests for infection

Urine tests and swabs from your vagina and cervix (neck of the womb) will be checked for signs of infection.

Swabs may also be taken from your placenta (afterbirth) and your baby to check for infection also.

Placenta examination

A detailed examination of your placenta might give information about what caused your baby to die.

Chromosome tests

Tests to check your baby’s chromosomes can be done. This could involve taking a blood sample from your baby, or a sample of your baby’s skin or muscle tissue.

Post-mortem

A post-mortem examination of your baby and your placenta can provide information about the cause of death. This will be discussed with you in detail by your obstetricians and midwives.

Hospital reviews

Hospitals usually review cases of stillbirth. Doctors will discuss this with you.

Page last reviewed: 28/03/2019
Next review due: 28/03/2022