Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics

, Volume 271, Issue 4, pp 286–291

Unexplained antepartum fetal deaths: what are the determinants?

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00404-004-0606-1

Cite this article as:
Chibber, R. Arch Gynecol Obstet (2005) 271: 286. doi:10.1007/s00404-004-0606-1



The objective was to assess fetal, antenatal, and pregnancy determinants of unexplained antepartum fetal death.


This is a hospital-based cohort study of 34,394 births weighing 500 g or more from January 1995 to December 2002. Unexplained fetal deaths were defined as fetal deaths occurring before labor, without evidence of significant fetal, maternal or placental pathology.


Ninety-eight unexplained antepartum fetal deaths accounted for 27.2% of 360 total fetal deaths. Two-thirds of these deaths occurred after 36 weeks’ gestation. The following factors are independently associated with unexplained fetal deaths: primiparity (OR 1.74; 95% CI 1.21, 2.86); parity of five or more (OR 1.19; 95% CI 1.26, 3.26); low socioeconomic status (OR 1.22; 95% CI 1.14, 2.86); maternal age 40 years or more (OR 3.62; 95% CI 1.22, 4.52); maternal age of 18 years or less (OR 1.79; 95% CI 0.82, 2.89); maternal prepregnancy weight greater than 70 kg (OR 2.20; 95% CI 1.85, 3.68); fewer than three antenatal visits in women whose fetuses died at 31 weeks or more (OR 1.11; 95% CI 1.08, 2.48); birth weight ratio (defined as ratio of birth weight to mean birth weight for gestational age) between 0.85 and 0.94 (OR 1.77; 95% CI 1.28, 4.18) or over 1.45 (OR 2.92; 95% CI 1.75, 3.21); trimester of first antenatal visit. Previous fetal death, previous abortion, cigarette smoking, fetal sex, low maternal weight, fetal-to-placenta weight, and post date pregnancy were not significantly associated with unexplained fetal deaths.


Several factors were identified that are associated with an increased risk of unexplained fetal deaths.


UnexplainedFetal deathAntepartumDeterminants

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyKing Faisal University Teaching HospitalAl Khobar Kingdom of Saudi Arabia