SIDS Program Manual SIDS & Infant Death Program Manual and Trainer's Guide Trainer's Guide

Program Expansion

Fetal Death

Program Expansion - Fetal Death

The rate of fetal mortality is nearly equal to the rate of infant mortality in the United States. In 2002, the infant mortality rate was 7.0 per 1,000 live births and the fetal mortality rate was 6.4 per 1,000 live births plus fetal deaths. Although interventions for problems like gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia are credited with the significant reduction of fetal deaths during the past 40 years from a rate of 15.8 in 1960, the fetal death rate has since leveled off, falling from only 7.5 in 1990 to 6.4 in 2002.1

At present, as many as 50 percent of fetal deaths are attributed to unknown causes. The high rate of undetermined deaths is due partially to the lack of a national mandate for the collection of fetal death data. Only 40 States code for the age and cause in fetal deaths and, because there is no standard protocol for this data collection, varying quality of fetal death data presents difficulties in developing comparative analyses. It is generally acknowledged that the number of fetal deaths in the United States may be underreported by as much as 15 percent.2

Fetal mortality rates vary by race, ethnic origin, marital status and age of the mother, with the youngest and oldest mothers experiencing the greatest risk of fetal mortality. In 2002, the fetal mortality rate was more than two-fold higher for African American mothers, at 11.9, than for White mothers, at 5.5.3