NCCDPHP Division of Reproductive Health Activities to Understand Stillbirth

CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP) Division of Reproductive Health is conducting research to learn more about stillbirth. Read about their efforts below.

Exploring Further Opportunities to Understand Stillbirth and its Effects

A woman working at a computer

CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health (DRH) collaborates with partners to explore opportunities to prevent stillbirth and its effects on women and their families. One of the ways DRH accomplishes this task is through the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS). PRAMS collects a wealth of information from women who have had a U.S. live birth. It is used to describe the experience of women and their babies before, during, and after pregnancy. With a 2016 and 2021 Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), PRAMS funded the Utah Department of health to expand its PRAMS methods and sampling to include women who experienced a stillbirth. Including women who have had a stillbirth will provide valuable information to both the state and CDC by—

  • Identifying groups of women who are at high risk for stillbirth.
  • Monitoring trends in risk factors and health care experiences over time.
  • Identifying areas for prevention.
  • Monitoring progress towards goals in reducing stillbirth rates.
  • Reducing the differences in the rates between women from different racial/ethnic or socioeconomic groups.

Utah’s expanded stillbirth pilot study will provide essential data for monitoring stillbirth and related factors, such as prenatal, obstetric and postpartum health care after a pregnancy loss. Information collected can fill data gaps and inform efforts to conduct stillbirth surveillance in other states.

Enhancing PRAMS to include stillbirths is the result of the collaboration between the DRH and Emory University to determine the potential of creating a survey similar to the PRAMS questionnaires. This may help expand the current body of knowledge around pre-pregnancy and the prenatal factors that might contribute to stillbirth. The collaboration looked into appropriate methods to ask women about their experience with stillbirth, including the types of questions to ask women who had a stillbirth and the appropriate language to use when asking these questions.

Another way in which DRH works with its state partners to address stillbirth is by providing direct technical assistance through its Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology Program (MCHEP). The MCHEP assigns epidemiologists and fellows to state, local, tribal agencies, and organizations to support epidemiologic research and provide scientific information to improve maternal and child health programs and policies. For example, the Ohio MCH-EPI assignee assisted the Department of Health with a PRAMS-like still births survey. In addition, a data brief was published from a review of the statewide fetal death registry for timeliness, completeness, and reliability using National Vital Statistics System reported information.