The antepartum stillbirth syndrome: risk factors and pregnancy conditions identified from the INTERGROWTH-21st Project

JE Hirst, Julie Villar, CG Victora, AT Papageorghiou, D Finkton, FC Barros, MG Gravett, F Giuliani, M Purwar, IO Frederick, R Pang, L Cheikh Ismail, A Lambert, W Stones, YA Jaffer, DG Altman, JA Noble, EO Ohuma, SH Kennedy, ZA Bhutta

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ObjectivesTo identify risk factors for antepartum stillbirth, including fetal growth restriction, among women with well‐dated pregnancies and access to antenatal care.DesignPopulation‐based, prospective, observational study.SettingEight international urban populations.PopulationPregnant women and their babies enrolled in the Newborn Cross‐Sectional Study of the INTERGROWTH‐21st Project.MethodsCox proportional hazard models were used to compare risks among antepartum stillborn and liveborn babies.Main outcome measuresAntepartum stillbirth was defined as any fetal death after 16 weeks’ gestation before the onset of labour.ResultsOf 60 121 babies, 553 were stillborn (9.2 per 1000 births), of which 445 were antepartum deaths (7.4 per 1000 births). After adjustment for site, risk factors were low socio‐economic status, hazard ratio (HR): 1.6 (95% CI, 1.2–2.1); single marital status, HR 2.0 (95% CI, 1.4–2.8); age ≥40 years, HR 2.2 (95% CI, 1.4–3.7); essential hypertension, HR 4.0 (95% CI, 2.7–5.9); HIV/AIDS, HR 4.3 (95% CI, 2.0–9.1); pre‐eclampsia, HR 1.6 (95% CI, 1.1–3.8); multiple pregnancy, HR 3.3 (95% CI, 2.0–5.6); and antepartum haemorrhage, HR 3.3 (95% CI, 2.5–4.5). Birth weight <3rd centile was associated with antepartum stillbirth [HR, 4.6 (95% CI, 3.4–6.2)]. The greatest risk was seen in babies not suspected to have been growth restricted antenatally, with an HR of 5.0 (95% CI, 3.6–7.0). The population‐attributable risk of antepartum death associated with small‐for‐gestational‐age neonates diagnosed at birth was 11%.ConclusionsAntepartum stillbirth is a complex syndrome associated with several risk factors. Although small babies are at higher risk, current growth restriction detection strategies only modestly reduced the rate of stillbirth.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1145-1153
Number of pages9
JournalBJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Issue number9
Early online date28 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2018


  • antepartum stillbirth
  • birth weight
  • fetal growth restriction


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