Mode of Collection:
The dataset includes a nearly-complete census of fetal deaths of 20 or more weeks of gestation and/or 350 or more grams birthweight, with additional reporting of fetal deaths of earlier gestations by several States.
A variety of characteristics, including maternal age, marital status, race, Hispanic origin, state of residence; and gestational age at delivery, birth weight, plurality, sex, medical risk factors, method of delivery, obstetric procedures. Content has changed periodically with revisions to the U.S. Standard Report of Fetal Death (1979, 1989, 2003).
Reported fetal deaths occurring in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, New York City, Puerto Rico, and Guam to U.S. residents and nonresidents.
The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) obtains information on fetal deaths from the registration offices of each of the 50 states, New York City, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories. By law, registration of fetal deaths is the responsibility of the institution in which the delivery occurs. If delivery occurs outside of an institution, the responsibility lies with the professional attendant at, or immediately after delivery, generally a physician or midwife. The fetal death report is filed with the local or state registrar in the jurisdiction in which the delivery occurred, within a time period prescribed by state law. State fetal death reports are modeled on a U.S. Standard Report of Fetal Death that is revised periodically. States provide NCHS with fetal death data, mostly in electronic format.
Response Rates and Sample Size:
Fetal death information is reported by the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Territories. The majority of reporting areas report deaths at 20 weeks of gestation or 350 grams. In 2005, approximately 26 thousand fetal deaths of 20 or more weeks were reported.
The 2003 Revision of the US Standard Report of Fetal Death is currently not fully implemented across states leading to a lack of comparability for some key data items (e.g., prenatal care and maternal educational attainment). There is evidence for under-reporting/misclassification of fetal deaths, especially at the lower range of state reporting, most typically about 20-24 weeks.