A New System for Determining the Causes of Stillbirth

Drexel University, Filadelfia, Pennsylvania, United States
Obstetrics and Gynecology (Impact Factor: 5.18). 08/2010; 116(2 Pt 1):254-60. DOI: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e3181e7d975
Source: PubMed


To describe the methods for assigning the cause of death for stillbirths enrolled in the Stillbirth Collaborative Research Network (SCRN).
A complete evaluation, including postmortem examination, placental pathology, medical record abstraction, and maternal interview was available on 512 stillbirths among 500 women. These 512 stillbirths were evaluated for cause of death using the definitions outlined in this report. Using the best available evidence, SCRN investigators developed a new methodology to assign the cause of death of stillbirths using clinical, postmortem, and placental pathology data. This new tool, designated the Initial Causes of Fetal Death, incorporates known causes of death and assigns them as possible or probable based on strict diagnostic criteria, derived from published references and pathophysiologic sequences that lead to stillbirth.
Six broad categories of causes of death are accounted for, including maternal medical conditions; obstetric complications; maternal or fetal hematologic conditions; fetal genetic, structural, and karyotypic abnormalities; placental infection, fetal infection, or both; and placental pathologic findings. Isolated histologic chorioamnionitis and small for gestational age were not considered causes of death.
A new system, Initial Causes of Fetal Death, to assign cause of death in stillbirths was developed by the SCRN investigators for use in this study but has broader applicability. Initial Causes of Fetal Death is a standardized method to assign probable and possible causes of death of stillbirths based on information routinely collected during prenatal care and the clinical evaluation of fetal death.

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    • "In 2009, RECODE was ranked third in the International Stillbirth Alliance out of six contemporary systems designed specifically for stillbirths: Amended Aberdeeen, Extended Wigglesworth, PSANZ-PDC, CODAC and Tulip [3]. They concluded that the best classifications collect all relevant information, use a hierarchical approach as a guide, but rely on expert opinions in order to preserve the relative importance of the narrative [6-8]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Stillbirth classifications use various strategies to synthesise information associated with fetal demise with the aim of identifying key causes for the death. RECODE is a hierarchical classification of death-related conditions, which grants a major place to fetal growth restriction (FGR). Our objective was to explore how placement of FGR in the hierarchy affected results from the classification. In the Rhone-Alpes region, all stillbirths were recorded in a local registry from 2000 to 2010 in three districts (N = 969). Small for gestational age (SGA) was defined as a birthweight below the 10th percentile. We applied RECODE and then modified the hierarchy, including FGR as the penultimate category (RECODE-R). 49.0% of stillbirths were SGA. From RECODE to RECODE-R, stillbirths attributable to FGR decreased from 38% to 14%, in favour of other related conditions. Nearly half of SGA stillbirths (49%) were reclassified. There was a non-significant tendency toward moderate SGA, singletons and full-term stillbirths to older mothers being reclassified. The position of FGR in hierarchical stillbirth classification has a major impact on the first condition associated with stillbirth. RECODE-R calls less attention to monitoring SGA fetuses but illustrates the diversity of death-related conditions for small fetuses.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
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    ABSTRACT: Stillbirth accounts for about 26,000 deaths annually in the US. In most previous studies, discrete causes are identified in less than half of all stillbirths. In order to identify causes and non-causal but potentially contributing abnormalities, we analyzed 416 of the most recent (2004-2010) Wisconsin Stillbirth Service Program (WiSSP) cases from a multifocal approach. In 70% of cases a cause sufficient to independently explain the demise was identified including 40% placental, 21.5% fetal, and 12.7% maternal. Results for stillbirths and second trimester miscarriages did not differ significantly. In 95% of cases at least one cause or non-causal abnormality was recognizable, and in two-thirds of cases, more than one cause or non-causal abnormality was identified. In cases with maternal cause, the placenta was virtually always abnormal. Both placentas (59%) and fetuses (38%) were frequently smaller than expected for gestational age. Previous miscarriage and/or stillbirth were risk factors for second and third trimester losses, with 35% of previous pregnancies ending in fetal demise. Recommendations include complete evaluation of all second and third trimester losses with special attention to placental pathology and thorough investigation for multiple causes or abnormalities whether or not a primary cause is initially recognized. Improved understanding of the causes of late miscarriage and stillbirth may contribute to recognition and management of pregnancies at risk and eventually to prevention of stillbirth.
    No preview · Article · May 2011 · American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A
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    ABSTRACT: Stillbirth rates in high-income countries declined dramatically from about 1940, but this decline has slowed or stalled over recent times. The present variation in stillbirth rates across and within high-income countries indicates that further reduction in stillbirth is possible. Large disparities (linked to disadvantage such as poverty) in stillbirth rates need to be addressed by providing more educational opportunities and improving living conditions for women. Placental pathologies and infection associated with preterm birth are linked to a substantial proportion of stillbirths. The proportion of unexplained stillbirths associated with under investigation continues to impede efforts in stillbirth prevention. Overweight, obesity, and smoking are important modifiable risk factors for stillbirth, and advanced maternal age is also an increasingly prevalent risk factor. Intensified efforts are needed to ameliorate the effects of these factors on stillbirth rates. Culturally appropriate preconception care and quality antenatal care that is accessible to all women has the potential to reduce stillbirth rates in high-income countries. Implementation of national perinatal mortality audit programmes aimed at improving the quality of care could substantially reduce stillbirths. Better data on numbers and causes of stillbirth are needed, and international consensus on definition and classification related to stillbirth is a priority. All parents should be offered a thorough investigation including a high-quality autopsy and placental histopathology. Parent organisations are powerful change agents and could have an important role in raising awareness to prevent stillbirth. Future research must focus on screening and interventions to reduce antepartum stillbirth as a result of placental dysfunction. Identification of ways to reduce maternal overweight and obesity is a high priority for high-income countries.
    Full-text · Article · May 2011 · The Lancet
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