Stillbirth in Canada: anachronistic definition and registration processes impede public health surveillance and clinical care Journal Articles uri icon

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  • AbstractThe archaic definition and registration processes for stillbirth currently prevalent in Canada impede both clinical care and public health. The situation is fraught because of definitional problems related to the inclusion of induced abortions at ≥20 weeks’ gestation as stillbirths: widespread uptake of prenatal diagnosis and induced abortion for serious congenital anomalies has resulted in an artefactual temporal increase in stillbirth rates in Canada and placed the country in an unfavourable position in international (stillbirth) rankings. Other problems with the Canadian stillbirth definition and registration processes extend to the inclusion of fetal reductions (for multi-fetal pregnancy) as stillbirths, and the use of inconsistent viability criteria for reporting stillbirth. This paper reviews the history of stillbirth registration in Canada, provides a rationale for updating the definition of fetal death and recommends a new definition and improved processes for fetal death registration. The recommendations proposed are intended to serve as a starting point for reformulating issues related to stillbirth, with the hope that building a consensus regarding a definition and registration procedures will facilitate clinical care and public health.


  • Joseph, KS
  • Lee, Lily
  • Arbour, Laura
  • Auger, Nathalie
  • Darling, Elizabeth
  • Evans, Jane
  • Little, Julian
  • McDonald, Sarah
  • Moore, Aideen
  • Murphy, Phil A
  • Ray, Joel G
  • Scott, Heather
  • Shah, Prakesh
  • VanDenHof, Michiel
  • Kramer, Michael S

publication date

  • August 2021