Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Does substandard care contribute to stillbirth? a retrospective observational study
  1. A Yulia
  1. Northumbria NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle, United Kingdom


Introduction Around 4,000 babies die unexpectedly in the last trimester of pregnancy or during labour every year, giving a stillbirth rate of 5.2 in 1000 in the United Kingdom (UK). Over one third of stillbirths are small-for-gestational-age fetuses with half classified as being unexplained, although substandard care is thought to be a contributory factor.

Aims (1) To find out the rates of stillbirth in our trust. (2) To assess any substandard care factors in contributing to the cause of stillbirth.

Methods A retrospective study was performed. Antenatal and intrapartum stillbirth from January 2008 – December cases 2009 were analysed. Exclusion criteria includes: deaths due to congenital abnormality, death occurred less than 24 weeks.

Results During the 2 years study period, there were 6326 deliveries and there were 23 stillbirths (3.63 per 1 000). Most stillbirths occurred during uncomplicated pregnancies (16 out of 23 (70%)). For the remaining 7 stillbirths, 3 out of 7 stillbirths (43%) were small-for-gestational age but growth restriction was only suspected in 1 stillbirth (14%), 1 out of 7 was due to severe impacted head at delivery and 3 out of 7 were due to organisational factors, staffing shortages and delays in interpretations of CTG, resulting in late decisions in delivery. Overall 6 out of 23 (26%) stillbirths were due to substandard care.

Conclusion Recognition and prompt management of suspected growth restriction, improvement and training in CTG interpretation, staffing levels, and Implementation of guidelines might result in a reduction of stillbirths.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.