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Bon Jovi’s lead singer Jon Bon Jovi performs during their “Bon Jovi Live!” concert at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, Sept. 11, 2015. And now Bon Jovi wants to sing at a lucky college’s graduation. (Photo: Tatan Syuflana, AP)

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First-of-its-kind process aims to unlock miscarriage mysteries

CLOSE First-of-its-kind process aims to unlock miscarriage mysteries
First-of-its-kind process aims to unlock miscarriage mysteries

A new genetic test will help doctors determine why miscarriages, stillbirths and neonatal deaths happen, giving grieving families closure and knowledge for future family planning. Keith Uhlig, Tyler Rickenbach/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

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Angela Gruber and her husband Ben hold their daughter Rosemary. Rosemary died from a chromosome disorder about five months into pregnancy. This photo was taken by Kirsten Grupa, a photographer who works with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, an agency that aims to help families who suffer pregnancy loss. (Photo: Kirsten Grupa, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep)

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MARSHFIELD - Sara Guild's unborn baby died about halfway through her pregnancy.

Until that point in 2016, Guild, outreach director for U.S. Congressman Sean Duffy and a Marathon County Board member, and her husband, Daniel Guild, Weston village administrator, were thinking about the future.

"By that stage, you are already planning a life around another member of your family," said Sara Guild, 33. After the doctor told her the news, she said she only had one thought: "What did I do wrong?"

Nothing. She took some solace when her doctor told her so. The baby likely died because its body got twisted up with the umbilical cord, her obstetrician said. It's the cause of an estimated 10 percent of stillbirths, according to research by the Stillbirth Collaborative Research Network .

But for many women who lose unborn babies, the reason isn't at all clear. And sometimes, there is no answer at all to a loss during pregnancy. Not knowing what happened or why can add even more emotional pain to an already difficult grieving process.

That special kind of suffering spurred Dr. Elizabeth McPherson and Diane Allingham-Hawkins of PreventionGenetics, a Marshfield genetic testing lab, to band together to find a new, better way to determine the causes of pregnancy loss. McPherson is a medical geneticist for the firm and director of the Wisconsin Stillbirth Service Program. Allingham-Hawkins is the senior laboratory director at PreventionGenetics and a geneticist who specializes in the technical aspect of scrutinizing human DNA.

Together, they and their colleagues at PreventionGenetics unveiled in December a first-of-its-kind process of determining why unborn or just-born infants have died, called the Comprehensive Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Panel.

"Couples who experience these kinds of challenges are compelled to seek answers to questions whether the event will happen again, and if it could have been prevented," McPherson said. "Genetic testing can sometimes open the doors to answers."

How the test works

Think of DNA as a car engine. A skilled mechanic knows a good engine by the way it looks and sounds. When things go wrong, the mechanic can look at an engine and see oil seeping through a seal, find a cracked hose or hear a piston misfiring.

A portrait of Dr. Elizabeth McPherson, medical geneticistBuy Photo

A portrait of Dr. Elizabeth McPherson, medical geneticist at PreventionGenetics, taken on March 22, 2017 at PreventionGenetics in Marshfield, Wis.   (Photo: Tyler Rickenbach/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)

It was only recently that researchers fully understood what a sound

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N.C. lawmakers announce deal to repeal 'bathroom bill'

WCNC-TV, Charlotte, N.C.

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Reports: American Airlines officer dies during landing at Albuquerque

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