Stillbirth, one of the most common adverse pregnancy outcomes, is especially prevalent in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Understanding the causes of stillbirth is crucial to developing effective interventions. In this commentary, investigators working across several LMICs discuss the most useful investigations to determine causes of stillbirths in LMICs. Useful data were defined as 1) feasible to obtain accurately and 2) informative to determine or help eliminate a cause of death. Recently, new tools for LMIC settings to determine cause of death in stillbirths, including minimally invasive tissue sampling (MITS) – a method using needle biopsies to obtain internal organ tissue from deceased fetuses for histology and pathogen identification in those tissues have become available. While placental histology has been available for some time, the development of the Amsterdam Criteria in 2016 has provided a useful framework to categorize placental lesions. The authors recommend focusing on the clinical history, the placental evaluation, the external examination of the fetus, and, when available, fetal tissue obtained by MITS, especially of the lung (focused on histology and microbiology) and brain/cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) and fetal blood (focused on microbiological analysis). The authors recognize that this approach may not identify some causes of stillbirth, including some genetic abnormalities and internal organ anomalies, but believe it will identify the most common causes of stillbirth, and most of the preventable causes.
- cause of stillbirth
- minimally invasive tissue sampling
- useful investigations