Mount Sinai Health System will launch a multidisciplinary clinic this month, focused on reducing stillbirths and supporting women and families who have experienced this pregnancy loss, the health system said Tuesday.
The Rainbow Clinic at Mount Sinai is a collaboration with the organization PUSH for Empowered Pregnancy and will provide sensitivity training for clinicians and devise strategies for better pregnancy outcomes. It will offer clinical care and psychological support in post-stillbirth pregnancies as a way to prevent fear, anxiety and future perinatal losses.
“This clinic is extremely comprehensive and really focused on the patient’s needs,” said Dr. Joanne Stone, the assistant chair of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
Around one in 160 births in the U.S., or 24,000 pregnancies, result in stillbirth each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Studies have shown that Black women are twice as likely as any other group to experience a stillbirth, and women of color have an overall high risk of stillbirth.
Women who have already experienced stillbirth are nearly five times as likely to experience another stillbirth or severe maternal complication.
There are a few established rainbow clinics worldwide, including one in the U.S. They are largely based on the rainbow clinic model established in the U.K. by Alexander Heazell, an international leader in stillbirth research.
Mount Sinai’s clinic will be in the Icahn School of Medicine. Physicians will tailor care to each patient and try to determine the cause of patients’ previous stillbirth, along with a strategy for conception and pregnancy moving forward. The clinic will give patients access to monitoring and testing services, mental health support and nutritional guidance during their pregnancy.
Clinical staff will undergo specialized training to understand their patients’ emotional needs while preventing further trauma. The clinic plans to have staff available around the clock, as well as social workers to help patients with anxiety and emotional needs surrounding the pregnancy, said Stone, a founder of the clinic.
Typically, she said, the clinic’s work will involve a lot of patient awareness of their own health and fetal movements as physicians take fetal measurements, run tests and plan for an early delivery.
The Rainbow Clinic will also conduct research to gain insight on risk factors that contribute to stillbirth and collaborate with other health centers like the rainbow clinic in the U.K. to replicate similar outcomes of low stillbirth rates.
Research indicates that avoiding smoking, drinking alcohol and eating certain foods, reducing high blood pressure, getting routine tests during pregnancy, avoiding infection and reporting pain and other warning signs could all help to decrease the chances of a stillbirth.
PUSH for Empowered Pregnancy’s mission is to decrease the U.S. stillbirth rate by 20% at the end of 2030, as well as by 50% in 2050, while also eventually eliminating all preventable stillbirths.
“As important as it is to provide care to patients who have lived through this trauma and improve their future course of treatment, it is also imperative to gain the necessary insights to prevent stillbirths from happening in any pregnancy,” Stone said in a news release. “The more data we can gather from our diverse patient population at Mount Sinai, the bigger the impact we can have in addressing this ongoing crisis.”
Several other organizations and programs are working to improve prenatal care and determine the various causes of stillbirths. Every Newborn Action Plan, a partnership between the World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund and others, offers evidence-based solutions to prevent newborn deaths and stillbirths. The plan hopes to help all countries achieve a stillbirth rate of 12 or fewer per 1,000 total births by 2030.
The Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research, led by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, is striving to improve maternal and infant health while building research capacity, with scientists testing cost-effective, sustainable interventions for adverse pregnancy outcomes such as stillbirth.
The CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health collaborates with state partners to support epidemiological research and provide scientific information to improve maternal and child health programs and policies. It also identifies groups of women at high risk for stillbirth, monitors trends in risk factors and healthcare experiences, and pinpoints areas for prevention.