Biochemical tests of placental function versus ultrasound assessment of fetal size for stillbirth and small-for-gestational-age infants

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Alexander E P Heazell
  • Dexter JL Hayes
  • Melissa Whitworth
  • Susan Bayliss

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Manchester
  • Manchester Academic Health Sciences Centre


Stillbirth affects 2.6 million pregnancies worldwide each year. Whilst the majority of cases occur in low- and middle-income countries, stillbirth remains an important clinical issue for high-income countries (HICs) - with both the UK and the USA reporting rates above the mean for HICs. In HICs, the most frequently reported association with stillbirth is placental dysfunction. Placental dysfunction may be evident clinically as fetal growth restriction (FGR) and small-for-dates infants. It can be caused by placental abruption or hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and many other disorders and factors Placental abnormalities are noted in 11% to 65% of stillbirths. Identification of FGA is difficult in utero. Small-for-gestational age (SGA), as assessed after birth, is the most commonly used surrogate measure for this outcome. The degree of SGA is associated with the likelihood of FGR; 30% of infants with a birthweight < 10th centile are thought to be FGR, while 70% of infants with a birthweight < 3rd centile are thought to be FGR. Critically, SGA is the most significant antenatal risk factor for a stillborn infant. Correct identification of SGA infants is associated with a reduction in the perinatal mortality rate. However, currently used tests, such as measurement of symphysis-fundal height, have a low reported sensitivity and specificity for the identification of SGA infants.


Original languageEnglish
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2019