DEFINING THE TERMS
- The terms stillbirth, miscarriage and neonatal death are often misunderstood if they are understood at all. This is complicated further by the fact that the meaning of stillbirth changes from country to country. We’ll do our best here to help define the terms.
- It is widely known that miscarriage is the accepted term for early pregnancy loss before “fetal viability”—the point at which the fetus could survive on its own.
- Generally speaking, stillbirth (“fetal death” or “fetal mortality”) is the birth of an infant that has died in the womb after a certain period of gestation or weight.
- When a baby dies in the first 28 days of life it is called neonatal death.
- In the United States, there is no standard definition of the term ‘stillbirth’. Instead the term “fetal death” is the legal definition used for the death of a fetus after 20 weeks of gestation or 500 grams.
- In Australia a stillborn baby is defined as one that weighs more than 400 grams or has had 20 or more weeks gestation.
- In the UK it is defined as 24 weeks gestation. In Norway it is 16 weeks, while in Italy and Spain it is 26 weeks.
- In the United States in 2006 there were nearly 26,000 “fetal deaths” (stillbirths) and about 19,000 babies died in their first month. In total, 1 out of 60 births resulted in stillbirth or neonatal death. When one takes into account the number of miscarriages that number skyrockets to 1 out of 4 pregnancies.