Background. To evaluate the diagnostic methods and to elucidate the etiology of intrauterine fetal death.
Material and methods. A prospective study was conducted on all intrauterine fetal deaths occurring in Stockholm County in 1998–99. During a 24-month period, 188 cases of intrauterine fetal death with gestational ages of ≥ 22 weeks were investigated in accordance with structured test protocol. All information from antenatal and delivery records as well as all test results were entered in to an Internet-based database for continuous evaluation.
Results. A presumptive explanation to the stillbirth was established in 91% of the cases. The most common factors associated with intrauterine fetal death could be identified as infections (24%), placental insufficiency/intrauterine growth restriction (22%), placental abruption (19%), intercurrent maternal conditions (12%), congenital malformations (10%), and umbilical cord complications (9%).
Conclusions. A relevant test protocol in cases of intrauterine fetal death reduces the number of unexplained cases to a minimum. An Internet-based register on test results of fetal deaths may enable a continuous evaluation of the diagnostic tools and etiologic factors in an ever-changing panorama. The results from the present study can serve as a base for a case-control study in Sweden.