Intrauterine Fetal Death (Demise)

Intrauterine Fetal Death (Demise)

Intrauterine Fetal Demise (IUFD) is the clinical term typically used for a still birth after 20 weeks of gestation. (Earlier than 20 weeks is considered a miscarriage.) Unlike a miscarriage, because of the length of gestation, medical examiners view the loss as a death and will issue a birth and death certificate to the parents.

What to know about IUFD:

  • Fetal death (after 20 weeks) happens in about 1 in 100 U.S. pregnancies. Early stillbirth (20-27 weeks) is slightly more common than late stillbirth (28 weeks or later.
  • A baby who is a victim of IUFD after about 24 weeks gestation is considered to have been a viable fetus (capable of living outside the womb). 
  • Many maternal conditions can increase an infant’s risk for an IUFD including preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, hypertension, cholestasis (a liver condition in late pregnancy), two-vessel umbilical cord (vs. three), or intrauterine growth restriction. Also, if the fetus is small for gestational age, there may be an increased risk for IUFD.
    • These conditions require prompt diagnosis and careful monitoring during the pregnancy to prevent an IUFD.
  • If a clinician misses key risk factors or signs of intrauterine distress, an IUFD can be the direct result of such missteps.
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