Prior adverse pregnancy outcome and the risk of stillbirth

Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Dec;114(6):1259-70. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e3181c22422.


Objective: To estimate whether a history of fetal growth restriction, abruptio placentae, preeclampsia, or live preterm birth is associated with excess risk of stillbirth in a subsequent pregnancy. We also estimated the maternal and paternal contributions to such effects.

Methods: This was a population-based cohort study from 1967 to 2005. Pairs of first and second, second and third, third and fourth, and fourth and fifth births were identified among all births from the Medical Birth Registry of Norway; 747,221 pairs with the same parents, 51,708 with the same mother and different father, and 65,602 with the same father and different mother. The associations of gestational age categories (22-27, 28-32, 33-36, and at or above 37 weeks), small for gestational age (SGA), preeclampsia, and abruptio placenta in the first pregnancy with stillbirth and late abortion in the second were assessed by odds ratios (ORs) obtained by logistic regression.

Results: The baseline rate of stillbirth during the study period was 1.0% of all births from 16 weeks of gestation. After births with gestational age 22-27, 28-32, and 33-36 weeks of gestation, stillbirth was six, three and two times more likely to occur than after a term birth (OR 5.7, 95% confidence interval [CI] 4.2-7.6; OR 2.6, 95% CI 2.1-3.3; and OR 1.7, 95% CI 1.5-1.9, respectively). Odds ratios of stillbirth subsequent to pregnancies with SGA, preeclampsia, and abruptio placentae were 1.7 (95% CI 1.6-1.9), 1.6 (95% CI 1.5-1.9), and 2.8 (95% CI 2.2-3.5), respectively, and increased with severity of the conditions. Gestational age below 33 weeks with preeclampsia or SGA carried 6-9 and 6-13-fold effects on later stillbirth, respectively. Men who fathered a pregnancy with preterm preeclampsia were significantly more likely to father a stillbirth in another woman (OR 2.4, 95% CI 1.1-5.5).

Conclusion: Live preterm birth, fetal growth restriction, preeclampsia, and abruptio placenta are strongly associated with later stillbirth.

Level of evidence: II.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Fathers
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Stillbirth / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult