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MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2004 Jun 25;53(24):529-32.

Racial/ethnic trends in fetal mortality--United States, 1990-2000.


Fetal deaths at > or =20 weeks' gestation account for 49% of all deaths that occur between the 20th week of pregnancy and the first year of life. Although the risk for fetal death has declined substantially since the 1950s, disparities in the risk for fetal death by race/ethnicity exist. One of the national health objectives for 2010 is to reduce deaths among fetuses of > or =20 weeks' gestation to 4.1 deaths per 1,000 live births plus fetal deaths for all racial/ethnic populations (objective no. 16-1a). To assess progress toward meeting this objective, CDC analyzed 1990-2000 data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS). The findings indicate substantial reductions in fetal deaths, primarily because of reductions in late fetal deaths (> or =28 weeks' gestation) compared with early fetal deaths (20-27 weeks' gestation). Despite these reductions, racial/ethnic disparities in fetal deaths persist, particularly among non-Hispanic blacks. Prevention strategies should recognize fetal deaths as a public health problem, improve fetal death surveillance and reporting, target etiologic research, and educate practitioners in identifying women at risk.

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