Accurate determination of causes of stillbirth is critical to effective prevention. Autopsy remains the gold standard investigation for stillbirth; however, with low autopsy rates many stillbirths are likely to be ‘unexplored’ rather than ‘unexplained’.
To determine factors associated with autopsy following stillbirth.
Materials and methods
Routinely collected population‐based data on all singleton stillbirths of at least 400 g birthweight or 20 weeks gestation in Queensland between July 2000 and December 2011 were examined. Adjusted odds ratios (aOR, 99% CI) were calculated accounting for sociodemographic, pregnancy and medical factors. Of interest was initially unexplained stillbirth on the death certificate; analysis was stratified by gestational age group (<24, 24–27, 28–36 and ≥37 weeks). Results Of 3842 singleton stillbirths included in these analyses, 1356 (35.3%) had an autopsy performed. Initially unexplained stillbirth was associated with decreased odds of autopsy at late gestation (28–36 weeks, aOR 0.63 (99% CI 0.42‐0.93); ≥37 weeks, aOR 0.53 (99% CI 0.35‐0.81)) as was intrapartum stillbirth (<24 weeks, aOR 0.63 (99% CI 0.43‐0.94); 28–36 weeks, aOR 0.37 (99% CI 0.14–0.98)). Congenital abnormality (<24 weeks, ≥37 weeks), small‐for‐gestational age (<24 weeks), and primigravidity (≥37 weeks) were associated with increased odds of autopsy following stillbirth. Conclusions Pregnancy factors are associated with stillbirth autopsy. These findings have implications for development of appropriate information for parents and education of clinical staff. Further research is needed into factors influencing autopsy following stillbirth.