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Obstet Gynecol. 2000 Feb;95(2):215-21.

Determinants of unexplained antepartum fetal deaths.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Royal Victoria Hospital, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.



To assess fetal, maternal, and pregnancy-related determinants of unexplained antepartum fetal death.


We conducted a hospital-based cohort study of 84,294 births weighing 500 g or more from 1961-1974 and 1978-1996. Unexplained fetal deaths were defined as fetal deaths occurring before labor without evidence of significant fetal, maternal, or placental pathology.


One hundred ninety-six unexplained antepartum fetal deaths accounted for 27.2% of 721 total fetal deaths. Two thirds of the unexplained fetal deaths occurred after 35 weeks' gestation. The following factors were independently associated with unexplained fetal death: maternal prepregnancy weight greater than 68 kg (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 2.9; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.85, 4.68), birth weight ratio (defined as ratio of birth weight to mean weight for gestational age) between 0.75 and 0.85 (OR 2.77; 95% CI 1.48, 5.18) or over 1.15 (OR 2.36; 95% CI 1.26, 4.44), fewer than four antenatal visits in women whose fetuses died at 37 weeks or later (OR 2.21; 95% CI 1.08, 4.52), primiparity (OR 1.74; 95% CI 1.26, 2.40), parity of three or more (OR 2.01; 95% CI 1.26, 3.20), low socioeconomic status (OR 1.59; 95% CI 1.14, 2.22), cord loops (OR 1.75; 95% CI 1.04, 2.97) and, for the 1978-1996 period only, maternal age 40 years or more (OR 3.69; 95% CI 1.28, 10.58). Trimester of first antenatal visit, low maternal weight, postdate pregnancy, fetal-to-placental weight ratio, fetal sex, previous fetal death, previous abortion, cigarette smoking, and alcohol use were not significantly associated with unexplained fetal death.


In this study, we identified several factors associated with an increased risk of unexplained fetal death.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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