Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the nationwide stillbirth rate and explore the potential risk factors associated with stillbirths.
Patients and methods: Data from vital registrations during the time period from January 1, 2001 through to December 31, 2004 in Taiwan were used. Stillbirth was defined as fetal death with more than 20 completed weeks' gestational age (GA) or with birth weight more than 500 g if the GA was not known.
Results: There were a total of 8481 stillbirths identified nationwide between January 1, 2001 and December 31, 2004. The stillbirth rate was nine per 1000 total births in the study period, and the proportionate decline was nearly 48.8% in the most recent decade. There was a significant increase in average maternal age during this period. Advanced maternal age and teenage pregnancy were independent significant risk factors for stillbirths even after accounting for the effects of medical conditions that were more likely to occur among these particular age groups. Those fetuses that had been exposed to cord prolapse, maternal cervical incompetence and oligohydramnios/polyhydramnios were especially vulnerable. By contrast, women who had foreign nationality, fetal ultrasound surveys, fetal heart beat monitoring and hastened parturition were less likely to have stillbirth.
Conclusion: The stillbirth rate in Taiwan has remained high despite advancements in medical care. Prenatal evaluation of high risk women may decrease the adverse fetal outcomes.
Copyright © 2012. Published by Elsevier B.V.