Viruses May Play Larger Role in Causing Stillbirths

Viral Infections Found in Nearly 75% of Stillbirths in Australian Study

Researchers have long known that certain bacterial and viral infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth, but researchers in Australia now suggest that common viruses may play a larger role in causing stillbirths than previously believed.

Virologist Bill Rawlinson and his colleagues studied evidence from 130 stillbirths and found evidence of bacterial or viral involvement in 96 cases.

The findings included 16 different common viruses, including cytomegalovirus and parvovirus specimens.

The findings could be significant in helping researchers to find ways to reduce the rate of stillbirths. Health care practitioners might develop ways to screen for the infections during pregnancy and possibly take preventive action to prevent stillbirth, or vaccinations might be developed against the infections in the future to reduce risk.

Of course, researchers still need to look at this connection closer, as the majority of women exposed to common viruses during pregnancy do not have stillbirths, so further risk factors probably do need to be identified.

For now, it does make sense that pregnant women should use common sense and be vigilant about regularly washing their hands and using other precautions to avoid infections. Taking reasonable precautions to avoid food poisoning can help too.

Obviously you can never entirely eliminate your risk of infection, but reducing risk can go a long way.


Kontominas, Bellinda, "Stillbirths Linked to Simple Viruses." Sydney Morning Herald 30 Jun 2008. Accessed 27 Jul 2008.

Rawlinson, W.D., B. Hall, C.A. Jones, H.E. Jeffery, S.M. Arbuckle, N. Graf, J.

Howard, and J.M. Morris, "Viruses and Other Infections in Stillbirth: What Is the Evidence and What Should We Be Doing?" Pathology Feb 2008. Accessed 27 Jul 2008.

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