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December 14, 2011

Stillbirth and Lessons for Pregnancy Care

JAMA. 2011;306(22):2506-2507. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1822

Stillbirth—death of a fetus in utero during the second half of pregnancy—has until recently been a neglected topic in perinatal medicine despite its frequent occurrence, conservatively estimated worldwide at more than 2.6 million deaths in 2008.1 In the United States, fetal mortality is almost as common as infant mortality, affecting 1 in every 160 pregnancies.2 Investigations into the causes of stillbirth and means to prevent it are receiving more attention.3,4 In 2006, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development funded the first multicenter prospective population-based study of adequate size of stillbirth in the United States with the hope of addressing important scientific gaps. This issue of JAMA includes 2 reports5,6 from the Stillbirth Collaborative Research Network (SCRN) that provide lessons about the causes of fetal death, opportunities to prevent stillbirth, and the implications of stillbirth research for all adverse pregnancy outcomes.