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A stillbirth occurs when a foetus that is more than 20 weeks old, dies inside the mother's womb. If the foetus is less than 20 weeks old, a death of this kind is called a miscarriage. When a child is stillborn, it can be a very emotional time for the parents, because it leaves a big hole in their lives. It can also be difficult for younger children, like brothers and sisters, because the parents have to explain to them that the new baby they were expecting has died.
Stillbirths happen for lots of different reasons. It may be that the developing foetus had something wrong with it that caused it to die, or that the placenta detached from inside the mother's womb, so that the foetus didn't get enough food or oxygen. Sometimes it's not possible to say why a child is stillborn, even when doctors try to find out.
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