What is stillbirth?
A stillbirth is the death of a baby before or during delivery. Both miscarriage and stillbirth are terms describing pregnancy loss, but they differ according to when the loss occurs. There is no universally accepted definition of when a fetal death is called a stillbirth, and the meaning of this term varies internationally. This lack of a consistent definition of stillbirth often makes it difficult to compare data on how frequently it occurs.
In the United States, a miscarriage usually refers to a fetal loss less than 20 weeks after a woman becomes pregnant, and a stillbirth refers to a loss 20 or more weeks after a woman becomes pregnant.
Stillbirth is further classified as either early, late, or term.
- An early stillbirth is a fetal death occurring between 20 and 27 completed weeks of pregnancy.
- A late stillbirth occurs between 28 and 36 completed pregnancy weeks.
- A term stillbirth occurs between 37 or more completed pregnancy weeks.