DEFINING THE TERMS
The terms stillbirth, miscarriage, and neonatal death are often misunderstood if they are understood at all. This is complicated further by the fact that the definition of stillbirth changes from country to country.
- It is widely known that miscarriage is the accepted term for early pregnancy loss before "fetal viability" - the point at which the fetus could survive on its own. In the United States, this is < 20 weeks gestation.
- Generally speaking, stillbirth ("fetal death" or "fetal mortality") is the birth of an infant that has died in the womb after a certain period of gestation or weight.
In the United States, there is no standard definition of the term 'stillbirth'. Instead, the term "fetal death" is the legal definition used for the death of a fetus after 20 weeks of gestation or 500 grams.
In Australia, a stillborn baby is defined as one that weighs more than 400 grams or is 20 or more weeks gestation.
When a baby dies in the first 28 days of life, it is called neonatal death.
- One in four mothers report experiencing perinatal loss, however the number may be as high as 50% (Jaffe & Diamond, 2011). Annually, approximately 24,000 babies will be stillborn (>20 weeks gestation), and an additional 23,000 infants will die within the first 28 days of life (MacDorman & Gregory, 2015).
- Perinatal loss occurs 10 times more often than deaths related to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2017). Facts about Stillbirth. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/stillbirth/facts.html.
Jaffe, J. & Diamond, M.O. (2011). Reproductive trauma: Psychotherapy with infertility and pregnancy loss clients. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.
MacDorman, M. F. & Gregory, E. C. W. (2015). Fetal and perinatal mortality: United States, 2013. National Vital Statistics Report, 64(8).