Second Trimester Intrauterine Fetal Death (IUFD)

Posted On: June 17, 2016 By Nathan D. Fox, MD

Fetal death in utero, commonly known as a stillbirth, is typically recognized as a demise after 20 weeks of gestation and/or a fetal weight of more than 500 grams. Generally, a pregnancy
loss during the second trimester is classified as a miscarriage, and not as an Intrauterine Fetal Death (IUFD). However, this definition is somewhat arbitrary and many causes of late miscarriage overlap with those of IUFD, and the workup is often similar.

Causes of Second Trimester IUFD

Common causes of second trimester IUFD include:

  • Placental Insufficiency
  • Placental Abruption
  • Fetal Infection
  • Genetic Abnormalities
  • Congenital Anomalies
  • Fetomaternal Hemorrhage
  • Umbilical Cord Complications

Placental insufficiency is likely in pregnancies that have early growth restriction, abnormal PAPP-a, free BHCG, MSAFP, or oligyhydramnios. A fetus with apparent abnormalities likely has a genetic cause for IUFD. A patient with a hematoma and bleeding may have placental abruption. However, many cases of second trimester IUFD do not present classically, and a clear cause of IUFD is not found.


Carnegie Imaging for Women blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!

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