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Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2007;86(4):444-50.

Suboptimal care in stillbirths - a retrospective audit study.

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Ulleval University Hospital, Oslo, Norway.



Stillbirth rates have decreased radically over the last decades. One reason for this is improved perinatal care. The aim of this study was to explore whether sub-optimal factors in stillbirths were more frequent among non-western than western women.


Population-based perinatal audit of 356 stillbirths after gestational week 23, in 2 Norwegian counties during 1998-2003 (4.2 per 1,000 deliveries); of these 31% were born to non-western women. By audit, the stillbirths were attributed to optimal or sub-optimal care factors. Multivariate methods were used to analyse the data.


Sub-optimal factors were identified in 37% of the deaths. When compared to western women, non-western women had an increased risk of stillbirth (OR: 2.2; 95% CI: 1.3-3.8), and an increased risk of sub-optimal care (OR: 2.4; 95% CI: 1.5-3.9). More often, non-western women received sub-optimal obstetric care (p<0.001), as e.g. failure to act on non-reassuring fetal status or incorrect assessment of labour progression. A common failure in antenatal care for both groups was unidentified or inadequate management of intrauterine growth restriction or decreased fetal movements. Non-western women were less prone to attend the program for antenatal care or to take the consequences of recommendations from health professionals. Inadequate communication was documented in 47% of non-western mothers; an interpreter was used in 29% of these cases.


Non-western women constituted a risk group for sub-optimal care factors in stillbirths. Possibilities for improvements include a reduction of language barriers, better identification and management of growth restriction for both origin groups, and adequate intervention in complicated vaginal births; with increased vigilance towards non-western women.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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