Dr. George Saade of the University of Texas in Galveston and colleagues said the multi-site study included 614 stillbirths and 1,816 live births. Data collection and evaluation were designed in a manner that would ensure the study was more representative and rigorous than prior studies of stillbirths, Saade said.
Several reproductive factors were most strongly associated with stillbirth, including previous stillbirth, never having borne a child before and multiple births in the current pregnancy.
However, other factors were also found associated with stillbirth including non-Hispanic black race/ethnicity; obesity, diabetes and pregnancy after age 40. Other factors include maternal AB blood type, not living with a partner, smoking during three months prior to pregnancy and history of illicit drug use.
"Moms-to-be and clinicians have a window of opportunity to save babies' lives by maintaining a healthy weight, managing conditions such as diabetes and stopping all unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, prior to pregnancy," Saade said in a statement. "In fact, obesity may be among the greatest risk factors that we have control over."
The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.