Racial and ethnic disparities in United States: stillbirth rates: trends, risk factors, and research needs

Semin Perinatol. 2011 Aug;35(4):221-33. doi: 10.1053/j.semperi.2011.02.019.


As with most adverse health outcomes, there has been long standing and persistent racial and ethnic disparity for stillbirth in the United States. In 2005, the stillbirth rate (fetal deaths ≥ 20 weeks' gestation per 1000 fetal deaths and live births) for non-Hispanic blacks was 11.13 compared with 4.79 for non-Hispanic whites. Rates were intermediate for American Indian or Alaska Natives (6.17) and Hispanics (5.44). There is racial disparity for both early (< 28 weeks' gestation) and late stillbirths. We review available data regarding risk factors for stillbirth with a focus on those factors that are more prevalent in certain racial/ethnic groups and those factors that appear to have a more profound effect in certain racial/ethnic groups. Although many factors, including genetics, environment, stress, social issues, access to and quality of medical care and behavior, contribute to racial disparity in stillbirth, the reasons for the disparity remain unclear. Knowledge gaps and recommendations for further research and interventions intended to reduce racial disparity in stillbirth are highlighted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • African Americans
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors
  • Stillbirth / epidemiology*
  • Stillbirth / ethnology
  • United States / epidemiology