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Registration of Stillbirths and Certification for Pregnancy Loss Before 24 Weeks of Gestation (Good Practice No. 4)


The law in England and Wales (Section 41 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 as amended by the Stillbirth Definition Act 1992), Scotland (Section 56(1) of the Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) Act 1965 as amended by the Stillbirth Definition Act 1992) and Northern Ireland (Births and Deaths Registration Order 1976 as amended by the Stillbirth Definition Northern Ireland Order 1992), requires that any ‘child’ expelled or issued forth from its mother after the 24th week of pregnancy that did not breathe or show any other signs of life be registered as a stillbirth.

A continuous flow of enquiries to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Office for National Statistics highlighted the need for a statement on the interpretation and implementation of the registration law where it is known that a fetus had died in utero before 24 weeks but is expelled from the mother after 24 weeks.

COVID disclaimer

This Good Practice Paper was developed prior to the emergence of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Version history

This is the first edition of this paper.

Please note that the Patient Safety Committee regularly assesses the need to update. Further information on this review is available on request.

Developer declaration of interests

Available on request.

This page was last reviewed 01 January 2005.