SFSU student's tragedy turns into quest for knowledge 

In 2005, Suzanne Pullen was devastated when her son, Avery, was stillborn. Since then, the reporter-turned-San Francisco State student has relentlessly pursued research and advocacy on behalf of grieving parents. Pullen was recently honored by the CSU system for her dedication to public service. She is currently pursuing legislation with organization www.firstcandle.org that would help the CDC and researchers better determine the risk factors associated with stillbirth.

How did you turn your tragedy into a quest for information? I started asking questions and wanting to find an answer for why he died. I spent hours on the Internet and found very little. I’m not one to wallow, I’m one to take action. I definitely did my months of crying.

Why isn’t there more research on stillbirths? Talking about stillbirth is a taboo thing. It happens to 1 in 150 births, but they don’t want to tell parents and make them worry.

How do hospitals handle stillbirths? When Avery died, I found there is no standardized protocol for reporting stillbirths, they could be reported as miscarriages. There is no protocol for autopsies, no database. If you don’t know what’s causing it, how can you prevent it?

Is that changing? I think the advent of the Internet has allowed moms to become better advocates for themselves, where before, it was “go ahead and get pregnant again.”

tbarak@sfexaminer.com

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