A new observational study looking at the causes of Stillbirth in the UK (Gardosi J, Madurasinghe V, Williams M, Malik A, Francis A: Maternal and fetal risk factors for stillbirth: Population based study. BMJ 2013, 346:f108.) identifies potentially modifiable factors that were associated with stillbirth after 24 weeks; they were maternal obesity, smoking, and most importantly intra-uterine growth restriction. ‘195 of the 389 stillbirths in this cohort had fetal growth restriction, but in 160 (82%) it had not been detected antenatally.’
One of the reasons for the increase in prematurity in the developed world is an increase in medical indicated preterm deliveries, many of which are for concerns about fetal status. It looks like there is still much to do, to accurately screen and diagnose fetal growth restriction and develop strategies to avoid stillbirth, and do this without further increasing prematurity rates.