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Evidence Found for Familial Aggregation of Stillbirth

First-, second-, and third-degree relatives of affected parents had higher odds of stillbirth than those of unaffected parents

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 26, 2022 (HealthDay News) — There is familial aggregation of stillbirth, according to a study published online Sept. 26 in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Tsegaselassie Workalemahu, Ph.D., from the University of Utah Health in Salt Lake City, and colleagues conducted a statewide matched case-control study involving 9,404 stillbirth cases and 18,808 live birth controls from Utah between 1978 and 2019. High-risk pedigrees with excess familial aggregation of stillbirth were identified using the familial standardized incidence ratio (FSIR). Stillbirth odds ratios (ORs) were estimated for first-degree relatives (FDR), second-degree relatives (SDR), and third-degree relatives (TDR) of parents with a stillbirth (affected) and live birth (unaffected).

The researchers identified 390 high-risk pedigrees with evidence for excess familial aggregation (FSIR ≥2.00). The odds of stillbirth were 1.14-, 1.22-, and 1.15-fold higher for FDRs, SDRs, and TDRs of affected parents than for FDRs, SDRs, and TDRs of unaffected parents, respectively. In parental sex-specific analyses, the odds of stillbirth were 1.22-, 1.38-, and 1.17-fold higher, respectively, for male FDRs, SDRs, and TDRs of affected fathers versus unaffected fathers. FDRs, SDRs, and TDRs of affected versus unaffected mothers had odds of stillbirth that were 1.12-, 1.09-, and 1.15-fold higher, respectively.

“Findings reported herein provide the first demonstration of familial aggregation of stillbirth. Further study of this population to evaluate pathogenic genetic variants will be an important next step in defining heritable genetic mutations,” the authors write. “Knowledge of risks for stillbirth according to family history may also improve patient counselling and management.”

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