Thursday, November 16, 2006

Age and weight

I Google "stillbirth study" at least once a week. And something that continues to shock me is the incredible LACK of any sort of studies about women in my situation...women who contract bacterial and/or viral infections that result in the death of their unborn baby.

Even more disturbing are the dozens of articles I find on the relationship between age and weight and stillbirth.

Risk of stillbirth doubles in mothers over 35

Pregnancy pounds may harm newborn

Too much weight gain in pregnancy raises risks

Modest weight gain makes for a riskier second pregnancy

Weight gain between pregnancies dangerous

Weight Gain May Endanger Pregnancy

Now, I'm the first to cheer on any effort to reduce the number of stillbirths in this world. If women can effectively eliminate risk factors and take home a living baby as a result, so much the better.


I was overweight. I am overweight. I got the disapproving looks and the lectures. My weight wasn't responsible for the death of my babies. And those who delivered those lectures never apologized for giving me the impression that it was all my fault...just for being fat.

I am high risk because I am 'older,' though I'm not quite in the 35+ set just yet. My age wasn't responsible for the death of my babies. And those who cautioned me about my age never apologized for giving me the impression that it was all my fault...for being old.

This culture that it is all controllable...that if a baby is stillborn, the mother MUST have done something to cause so pervasive that I never even recognized it before now. Even the doctors and researchers look at all those things that women can control (that I am pretty sure we've already established just by common sense). Where is the work being done on the mysterious? The non-obvious? Why isn't anyone interested in getting ME an answer beyond the overly simplistic, "You're fat," or, "You're old"???


three minute palaver said...

Yes, I too look up stillbirth studys and try to find answers by 'reading between the lines'. I have age and weight issues and that didn't kill my baby either. Mine was a clotting disorder. I had my living baby girl when I was 34 and weighed 180 pounds at her conception and 202 lbs by her delivery. I was 36 when I conveived my stillborn son and weighed 207 lbs. I am now 37 and weighed 231 lbs one month ago. I went to my RE and he said I wouldn't be allowed to undergo fertility treatment until I weighed less than 195 lbs. I'm already down to 213 lbs but still I wonder about the weight/age factors and why my Dr doesn't focus on all the other medical issues I have?

One Mother's Journey said...

I did have one doctor try to pull the weight card with me. Until recently, I honestly didn't know if it was a contributing factor or not. I had always wondered, felt guilty, assumed *I* had killed my child. There was no other explanation...

Now that I know there was more to the equation than just weight and age - I'd love to go back and beat the crap out of that man. I just can't imagine letting another person believe that they may have been the cause because he (and MANY doctors) didn't want to look into the situation any further. I was let down by a miriad of doctors and medical

I was almost "releaved" when I found out that I had huge undiagnosed fibroids. At least I don't have to wonder anymore. I suppose I should be grateful for that right? Somehow I'm not.

I don't think doctors should be allowed to used the "unexplained" diagnoses... if it's unexplained then you bloody well explain it better.

Anonymous said...

I get questions like that anytime people hear how big Kate was (10lbs 11oz)... people always ask me if I had some form of gestational diabetes (because it is correlated with larger birth weight babies)... but i didn't... i just had a big baby.

It's like people are searching for an easy thing to 'blame' her death on... and a lot of people get hung up on her size... and that seems to lead to how I must have done something wrong.

I think the obsession with correlations goes overboard and that people don't always realize that a correlation doesn't mean one thing caused another. Yes, weight or age may have positive correlations with stillbirth, but that doesn't even mean they are significant causes of stillbirth.

deadbabymama said...

It is incredibly disheartening. I can't remember the number of times I was asked "did your water break?" "When did your water break?" "Why didn't you notice your water breaking?" I still feel guilty for apparently 'not noticing' but really, truly, honestly I HAD NO *(^(ING IDEA if or when it broke and I'm going to feel guilty and sad and like most horrible mother in the world for 'not noticing' for the rest of my damned life. But that doesn't help anyone, and you are right Catherine there isn't really any research that is in any way helpful.

Anonymous said...

Hey, i was thin and young and my baby still died.

Sarah is absolutely right about the difference between correlations and causes. These are two totally different things, but we are a nation of sloppy thinkers who apparently were never taught the most basic scientific reasoning. Even, perhaps, if we happen to be a person who sports the letters DR in front of our name.

As far as research, that is a whole 'nother ball of wax, and comes down to funding i am sure. I am sorry to have to be cynical about it but it is very hard to get a govenment grant to study the totally mysterious. They want results if they are going to give you dollars.

MB said...

Don't you wish we could drag those 'researchers' by their ears and lock them in a room while we all scream at them for a while?

msfitzita said...

And I love how they conveniently leave doctor/nurse/midwife error/failure/negligence out of the equation altogether.

It's very rarely ever considered a contributing factor, even though in my case it most certainly was. And I'm a large woman who was almost 35 when Thomas was born and died.

Thank God no one has tried to pin it on me yet. I couldn't be held responsible for my actions if it was...