State officials will now gather medical data on stillborn Iowa babies and their mothers as a result of a bill Governor Tom Vilsack signed into law this afternoon. Vilsack says the bill’s a tribute to families who’re coping with the tragedy of a stillborn baby. State Representative Janet Peterson of Des Moines delivered a stillborn baby girl last summer, and was the driving force behind the new law. Peterson says her grandmother’s fourth child was stillborn, and Peterson says she “remembers laying in the hospital after we lost Grace and thinking ‘I can’t believe this is still happening to women.'” Peterson says 26-thousand American families lose a stillborn baby every year. Peterson says about two-hundred babies are stillborn every year in Iowa — a rate that’s five times greater than the number of babies who die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Iowa becomes the second state in the nation to collect data on stillbirths. The state birth defects institute at the University of Iowa is redesigned as a result of the legislation and Vilsack says it will now explore congenital and inherited disorders. Vilsack says it will hopefully help researchers learn more about stillbirths and prevent these tragedies from occurring in the future. Vilsack was surrounded by legislators and women who’ve delivered stillborn babies when he signed the bill into law and Peterson was emotional as she addressed the group. Peterson thanked the women “for having the courage to turn their tragedy into something positive for other families and women across the country.” Peterson says Senator Tom Harkin’s trying to round up about 25-thousand dollars in federal funds to finance the research its first year.
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