The key difference between miscarriage and stillbirth is that in a miscarriage, a baby dies in the uterus before 20 weeks of pregnancy, while in stillbirth, the death of the baby occurs during parturition (childbirth).
Pregnancy is a process where a baby develops inside the uterus of the mother for 36-40 weeks. Many complications can occur during this period, resulting in many detrimental effects such as miscarriage or stillbirths. These complications could arise due to different factors, and some may occur due to unknown causes. It is important for a pregnant mother to be cautious on different parameters, leading to the safety of both the mother and the baby for a successful and safe delivery. Miscarriages and stillbirths could also occur due to unavoidable causes.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is a Miscarriage
3. What is a Stillbirth
4. Similarities – Miscarriage and Stillbirth
5. Miscarriage vs Stillbirth in Tabular Form
6. Summary – Miscarriage vs Stillbirth
What is a Miscarriage?
Miscarriage is an event where the death of the fetus occurs inside the uterus before the completion of 20 weeks of pregnancy. Most miscarriages occur during the first trimester (before the 12th week of pregnancy). The tendency of a miscarriage to occur during the first trimester is about 15 in 100 pregnancies (15%). In the second trimester, between the 13th and 19th week of pregnancy, miscarriages tend to occur in a low percentage of 4-5%.
The actual cause for miscarriages is not clearly identified. However, physicians assume that it may occur due to problems with chromosomes such as blighted ovum (where an embryo implants in the uterus but doesn’t develop into a baby), intrauterine fetal demise (when an embryo stops developing and dies), translocation, and molar pregnancy (when tissue in the uterus forms into a tumor at the beginning of pregnancy). Miscarriages also occur due to problems with the uterus or cervix. These include septate uterus, Asher man syndrome, fibroids, cervical insufficiency, and due to various infections that affect the developing embryo.
The signs of a miscarriage include vaginal bleeding or spotting, cramps, and severe pain in the abdomen area. Miscarriage is unavoidable. There are treatment procedures like dilation, curettage, and medicine to ensure the safety of the mother by removing the remaining tissue of the embryo or fetus.
What is a Stillbirth?
Stillbirth is the death or loss of a baby during parturition (childbirth). A stillbirth can only occur after the completion of the 20th week of pregnancy. Stillbirth can be further classified under three categories: early stillbirth, late stillbirth, and term stillbirth. During an early stillbirth, the loss of the fetus occurs between the completion of the 20th and 27th week of pregnancy. A late stillbirth occurs between the completion of the 28th and 36th week of pregnancy, while a term stillbirth occurs between the completion of the 37th or more weeks of pregnancy. The tendency of occurrence of stillbirth is 1 in 160 births.
Stillbirths are common to all human beings despite age, income levels, ethnicities, and social standards. With research, it was evident that stillbirths are more common in certain groups of women who smoke and take drugs during pregnancy, have certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and multiple pregnancies such as triplets or quadruplets, or have had a previous pregnancy loss.
What are the Similarities Between Miscarriage and Stillbirth?
- Miscarriage and stillbirth take place during pregnancy.
- Both miscarriage and stillbirth refer to the loss or death of the fetus/baby.
- No clear reasons for the occurrence of both phenomena.
- Both are unavoidable through treatment.
What is the Difference Between Miscarriage and Stillbirth?
Miscarriage is when a baby dies in the uterus before 20 weeks of pregnancy, while stillbirth is when the death of the baby occurs during parturition (childbirth). Thus, this is the key difference between miscarriage and stillbirth. Miscarriage does not have subcategories, while stillbirths are classified under three categories as early stillbirth, late stillbirth, or term stillbirth. Moreover, miscarriages occur before parturition inside the uterus, but stillbirths occur during parturition.
The below infographic presents the differences between miscarriage and stillbirth in tabular form for side-by-side comparison.
Summary – Miscarriage vs Stillbirth
Pregnancy is a process where a baby develops inside the uterus of the mother for 36-40 weeks. During this time, complications may occur, giving many detrimental effects such as miscarriage or stillbirths. Miscarriage occurs inside the uterus before 20 weeks of pregnancy. A stillbirth occurs after the completion of 20 weeks of pregnancy and during parturition (childbirth). The actual reason for both occurrences is not completely deduced. So, this summarizes the difference between miscarriage and stillbirth.
1. “Miscarriage.” March of Dimes.
2. “What Is Stillbirth?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
1. “Miscarriage-Pregnancy timeline” (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
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