Guideline No. 441: Antenatal Fetal Health Surveillance Journal Articles uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVE: To summarize the current evidence and to make recommendations for antenatal fetal health surveillance (FHS) to detect perinatal risk factors and potential fetal decompensation in the antenatal period and to allow for timely intervention to prevent perinatal morbidity and/or mortality. TARGET POPULATION: Pregnant individuals with or without maternal, fetal, or pregnancy-associated perinatal risk factors for antenatal fetal decompensation. OPTIONS: To use basic and/or advanced antenatal testing modalities, based on risk factors for potential fetal decompensation. OUTCOMES: Early identification of potential fetal decompensation allows for interventions that may support fetal adaptation to maintain well-being or expedite delivery. BENEFITS, HARMS, AND COSTS: Antenatal FHS in pregnant individuals with identified perinatal risk factors may reduce the chance of adverse outcomes. Given the high false-positive rate, FHS may increase unnecessary interventions, which may result in harm, including parental anxiety, premature or operative birth, and increased use of health care resources. Optimization of surveillance protocols based on evidence-informed practice may improve perinatal outcomes and reduce harm. EVIDENCE: Medline, PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane Library were searched from inception to January 2022, using medical subject headings (MeSH) and key words related to pregnancy, fetal monitoring, fetal movement, stillbirth, pregnancy complications, and fetal sonography. This document represents an abstraction of the evidence rather than a methodological review. VALIDATION METHODS: The authors rated the quality of evidence and strength of recommendations using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach. See online Appendix A (TablesĀ A1 for definitions and A2 for interpretations of strong and weak recommendations). INTENDED AUDIENCE: All health care team members who provide care for or education to obstetrical patients, including maternal fetal medicine specialists, obstetricians, family physicians, midwives, nurses, nurse practitioners, and radiologists. SUMMARY STATEMENTS: RECOMMENDATIONS.


  • Niles, Kirsten M
  • Jain, Venu
  • Chan, Cynthia
  • Choo, Sheryl
  • Dore, Sharon
  • Kiely, Daniel J
  • Lim, Kenneth
  • Roy Lacroix, Marie-Eve
  • Sharma, Sapna
  • Waterman, Elizabeth

publication date

  • September 2023