Despite improvements in antenatal and intrapartum care, stillbirth, defined as in utero fetal death at 20 weeks of gestation or greater, remains an important, largely unstudied, and poignant problem in obstetrics. More than 26,000 stillbirths were reported in the United States in 2001. Although several conditions have been linked to stillbirth, it is difficult to define the precise etiology in many cases. This paper reviews known and suspected causes of stillbirth including genetic abnormalities, infection, fetal-maternal hemorrhage, and a variety of medical conditions in the mother. The proportion of stillbirths that have a diagnostic explanation is higher in centers that conduct a defined and systematic evaluation. The evidence for recommended diagnostic tests for stillbirth are discussed. The ongoing work of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Stillbirth Collaborative Research Network, a consortium of 5 academic centers in the United States that are studying the scope and causes of stillbirth, is presented.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Obstetrics and Gynecology