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One couple trying to change narrative on stillbirths

Cristian Ortiz and his wife, Crystal Rivera, experienced a heartbreaking stillbirth and are taking action to help change the initiative behind stillbirth prevention.

News 12 Staff

Oct 15, 2022, 12:08 AM

Updated 612 days ago

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Cristian Ortiz and his wife, Crystal Rivera, experienced a heartbreaking stillbirth at Kings County Hospital and are taking action to help change the initiative behind stillbirth prevention.  
Rivera and Ortiz were told they had nothing to worry about, but when they showed up for delivery, their daughter, Valentina, had been dead for a couple of days.  
According to a 2020 report from the CDC, the U.S. had around 21,000 reported stillbirths, with the highest rates among non-Hispanic native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and non-Hispanic Black women.  
The most common cause of fetal death was ‘unspecified’ in these incidents. 
“It is a problem that is not well understood,” said Dr. Natalie Ohly. “One of the reasons we can't really understand what factors contribute to stillbirth… there are factors that are very hard to measure. Social stressors, environment, environmental health, significant life events, trauma.” 
Ortiz and Rivera are now planning to join the ‘Empty Stroller’ march in Washington D.C. happening on Saturday, as they want legislative change.  
The Shine for Autumn Act calls for better research on stillbirths with the federal government awarding grants for the research. It also proposes a fellowship program dedicated to stillbirth research and prenatal autopsies.  
According to Dr. Ohly, conducting autopsies after a stillbirth is uncommon. This means that Rivera and Ortiz had to pay out of pocket for an autopsy that revealed the loss of Valentina could have been prevented.


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