In this morning’s Globe and Mail:
He noted the apparent rise in stillbirths coincided with major advances in prenatal diagnosis. Blood tests, ultrasound images and other screening techniques have made it possible for doctors to monitor the progress of the developing fetus.
In a small faction of pregnancies, the tests will reveal a serious defect in which the child is not expected to survive very long after birth. It may be an inoperable heart problem or a neural-tube defect, such as anencephaly, in which part of the brain or skull is missing.
“If it is a very severe or lethal condition, the parents might choose to terminate the pregnancy,” said Joseph.
Many of these diagnostic tests are carried out between 18 to 20 weeks, and the therapeutic abortions are performed around 20 and 22 weeks. That timing becomes critically important in terms of how these events are reported.
“The definition of a stillbirth is a baby who dies in utero and is delivered after 20 weeks, ” explained Joseph. “So the pregnancy termination occurs at a time when we will have to fill out a stillbirth certificate.”
In the past, these cases would have had another ending and become a different type of statistic. “The baby would have been born alive and might die in a few days or weeks. It would get counted as an infant death, instead of a stillbirth.”
If the pregnancy terminations are removed from the stillbirth statistics “our rates are essentially flat or declining,” said Joseph.
So it seems that abortions skewed the data.by