An IUFD, or Intrauterine Fetal Death, is the term used when a baby dies in the uterus at or after 20 weeks gestation. It is also known as a stillbirth. It is a heartbreaking outcome for expectant parents and families anticipating the birth of a healthy baby.
Because IUFDs occur later in a pregnancy, the pregnant person must still go through labor to deliver the non-viable baby. As such, the risk of post-partum depression and anxiety is heightened even more.
An additional risk associated with an IUFD is coagulopathy, which is failure of blood to clot causing excessive bleeding. In a study of women with an IUFD, 11.5% experienced a delivery complication related to coagulopathy. Conditions such as hypertension, preeclampsia, or diabetes can trigger excessive bleeding in women with an IUFD.
The type of coagulopathy often related to an IUFD is consumptive coagulopathy or DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulation). DIC occurs when the blood clotting process consumes excess proteins causing excessive bleeding such as when the placenta has separated partly or fully from the uterus (placental abruption). If it does occur, DIC can lead to widespread clotting and impair blood flow throughout the body, causing multiple organs to stop functioning. DIC is a life-threatening condition.
During pregnancy, medical providers should be closely monitoring the pregnant person’s health for complications that could lead to an IUFD. In cases when an IUFD is diagnosed, the health and well-being of the pregnant person must become the provider’s highest priority.
For more information on IUFD, see our fact sheet. If you have suffered medical complications related to an IUFD or stillbirth, consider consulting with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. You can contact us here.