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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1995 Feb;172(2 Pt 1):486-92.

Antepartum surveillance for a history of stillbirth: when to begin?

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Louisville, Kentucky.



A history of stillbirth is universally accepted as an indication for antepartum fetal heart rate testing. Our goal was to examine when fetal testing should begin in an otherwise healthy patient with a history of stillbirth.


This is a nonconcurrent cohort study of patients who were seen for antepartum surveillance from January 1979 to December 1991 with a history of stillbirth as the only indication for testing. Subsequent pregnancies were evaluated for adverse outcomes and abnormal antepartum test results.


There was one case of recurrent stillbirth among the 300 study patients. Nineteen patients (6.4%) had one or more positive antepartum surveillance tests (positive contraction stress test or biophysical profile < or = 4). Three patients (1%) had positive tests before 32 weeks, all of whom were subsequently delivered without incident at term. Three patients were delivered for positive tests at < 36 weeks, one by cesarean section for fetal distress. We could not detect a relationship between the gestational age of the previous stillborn and the incidence of abnormal tests or fetal distress in subsequent pregnancies.


Antepartum surveillance should begin at > or = 32 weeks in the healthy pregnant woman with a history of stillbirth.

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