Fibroids, which occur in an estimated 5% to 20% of women, have been reported by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri to increase the risk of stilborn birth. The study was presented Saturday, February 6th, at the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in Chicago.
It is known that many women who have fibroids are without any symptoms. What is of importance is that women typically undergo sonography at 16 to 22 weeks. It is at this time that such asymptomatic fibroids can be detected.
This study looked retrospectively at over 64,000 births. After numerous other factors were excluded and a subgroup identified, the investigators found that women with fibroids and in whom there was evidence of intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) were at a relative increased risk of having a stillbirth (fetal death in utero – FDIU).
“Our results showed that women with a combination of fibroids and fetal growth restriction were at two-and-a-half times the risk of having a stillbirth, though the absolute risk remained rare,” said Dr. Alison G. Cahill, one of the study’s authors. “This may lead to a future recommendation for serial growth scans to monitor fetal growth in women with fibroids.”
One related question remains: will the cost-effectiveness of serial sonograms for this group at risk drive the decision-making on setting a new standard for surveillance?
If you are pregnant and know you have fibroids, this is a subject for discussion with you obstetrician. If you are unaware of the presence of fibroids and undergo the usual 16-22 week sonogram, it might not be a bad idea to inquire about the presence of asymptomic fibroids when this test is interpreted. We have been involved in a number of cases of FDIU and the emotional devastation it causes a family when it occurs is simply awful.
Should you be interested in more information about fibroids, the US Department of Health and Human Services has a good FAQ on this topic.