Fibroids Are Causing Stillbirths

Researchers unveiled some pretty significant findings at the February 7th annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's (SMFM) conference known as The Pregnancy Meeting. During the Chicago-based convention, researchers reported that uterine fibroids increase the risk for intrauterine fetal death (IUFD), known in layman's terms as stillbirth, in women with these non-cancerous growths. Stillbirth is rather uncommon, affecting only 6-7 babies for every one thousand deliveries.

Very Common

The study was carried out by researchers at Washington University, located in St. Louis Mo. The scientists studied women who were found to have uterine fibroids during the routine second trimester anatomic survey ultrasound which is performed during weeks 16-22 of pregnancy. One of the study authors, Dr. Molly J. Stout comments, "Fibroids are very common. We think they occur in 5% to 20% of all women, but most women are asymptomatic and don't even know they have them."

This research project involved 64,047 female participants. The gathered data included maternal socioeconomics and demographics, past medical histories, and obstetric outcomes. Those pregnancies in which fetal anomalies were detected were excluded from the study.

For purposes of the study, women who were found to have at least one uterine fibroid during the fetal anatomic survey were compared to a control group of women who had no fibroids.  The scientists looked for IUFD at 20 weeks gestation in both groups of women. Two types of analytic methods were used in this study to determine the risk for IUFD in the two groups: univariate and multiple logistic regression analyses. The researchers also watched for intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR).

Much Higher

Out of the 64,047 participants, 3.2% were found to have uterine fibroids. The incidence of stillbirth was much higher in the group of women with uterine fibroids than in the control group: 1.6% as compared to 0.7%. The incidence of IUFD was still significantly higher in the group with fibroids even after researchers adjusted for factors such as race, smoking, high blood pressure, and diabetes. However, in the subgroup analysis, the relationship between fibroids and IUFD was only found in the subgroup with IUGR.

Another of the study authors, Dr. Alison G. Cahill stated, "Our results showed that women with a combination of fibroids and fetal growth restriction were at two-and-a-half times the risk of having a stillbirth, though the absolute risk remained rare. This may lead to a future recommendation for serial growth scans to monitor fetal growth in women with fibroids."

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