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Late Intrauterine Fetal Death and Stillbirth (Green-top Guideline No. 55)

Summary: The purpose of this guideline is to identify evidence-based options for women (and their relatives) who have a late intrauterine fetal death (IUFD: after 24 completed weeks of pregnancy) of a singleton fetus, and to incorporate information on general care before, during and after birth, and care in future pregnancies. The guidance is primarily intended for obstetricians and midwives but might also be useful for women and their partners, general practitioners and commissioners of healthcare.

This guideline does not include the management of multiple pregnancies with a surviving fetus, stillbirth following late fetocide, late delivery of fetus papyraceous or the management of specific medical conditions associated with increased risk of late IUFD.

Recommendations about the psychological aspects of late IUFD are focused on the main principles of care to provide a framework of practice for maternity clinicians. The full psychological and social aspects of care have been reviewed by Sands (Stillbirth and neonatal death charity).

The section on postmortem examination covers clinical aspects required for obstetricians and midwives caring for women who have suffered a stillbirth. 

Erratum: Reference no. 7 should read Platt LD, Manning FA, Murata Y, Keegan KA, Druzin ML, Socol ML, et al. Diagnosis of fetal death in utero by real-time ultrasound. Obstet Gynecol. 1980;55(2):191-3.

COVID disclaimer: This guideline was developed as part of the regular programme of Green-top Guidelines, as outlined in our document Developing a Green-top Guideline: Guidance for developers (PDF), and prior to the emergence of COVID-19.

Version history: This is the first edition of this guideline; the second edition of this guideline is currently in development.

Developer declaration of interests: Available on request.



This page was last reviewed 10 November 2010.