Hospital Annual Delivery Volume and Presence of Graduate Medical Education Influence Mode of Delivery after Stillbirth

South Med J. 2020 Dec;113(12):623-628. doi: 10.14423/SMJ.0000000000001180.


Objectives: To evaluate the statewide experience in mode of delivery for pregnancies complicated by stillbirth by annual delivery volume and presence of graduate medical education programs.

Methods: This is a descriptive study of all stillbirths without known congenital anomalies or aneuploidy born in our state from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2019. Stillbirths were ascertained by the State Reproductive Health Monitoring System, a population-based surveillance system. Stillbirths were identified by the State Reproductive Health Monitoring System from medical facilities and fetal death certificates; trained staff abstracted records. All of the stillbirths with a gestational age of >20 weeks or a birth weight of >500 g if birth weight was unknown and without congenital anomalies or aneuploidy were eligible for this study.

Results: There were 861 stillbirths from July 2015 through June 2019, 75 (8.7%) of which were delivered by cesarean section. Low-volume hospitals (<1000 deliveries) experienced a higher proportion of their stillbirths delivered by cesarean compared with high-volume hospitals (>1000 deliveries; 13.4% vs 5.5%; P < 0.0001). Before adjusting for maternal characteristics, stillbirths delivered at high-volume hospitals had a 59% lower risk of delivery by cesarean section compared with those delivered at low-volume hospitals (relative risk [RR] 0.41, 95% confidence interval 0.20-0.86, P = 0.02). The cesarean cohort had a higher proportion of Black mothers (44% vs 31.3%, P = 0.025), greater parity (P < 0.0001), and greater gravidity (P < 0.0001) compared with the vaginal group. The gestational age at delivery for stillbirths delivered by cesarean was much higher compared with those who were delivered vaginally (34.8 weeks vs 28.6 weeks; P < 0.0001). The RR of the cesarean delivery of a stillbirth at teaching institutions compared with nonteaching institutions was significantly reduced (RR 0.45, 95% confidence interval 0.28-0.73, P = 0.0011).

Conclusions: Annual hospital delivery volumes and residency teaching programs in obstetrics influence the mode of delivery in the management of stillbirth. Advancing gestational age, Black race, and parity are associated with an increased risk of cesarean delivery after stillbirth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arkansas / epidemiology
  • Cesarean Section / statistics & numerical data
  • Delivery, Obstetric / methods
  • Delivery, Obstetric / statistics & numerical data*
  • Education, Medical, Graduate
  • Female
  • Hospitals / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitals, Teaching / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Stillbirth* / epidemiology