Stillbirth after 20 weeks gestation happens in one out of every 160 U.S. deliveries. There are approximately 24,000 stillborn babies each year in the U.S. While that number has declined over the past 20 years, there is still much progress to be made in reducing this risk further.

Stillbirth is more common than neonatal loss and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) combined.


There are many causes of stillbirth, ranging from birth defects to problems with the pregnancy. Often, healthcare providers cannot determine a specific cause for a particular stillbirth.

As many as one out of every three stillbirths do not have an identifiable cause. Other stillbirths may occur as a result of multiple risk factors but not one single cause.

Risk Factors

A wide variety of risk factors—including pregnancy complications, chronic health conditions, genetics, environmental factors, and social determinants of health—have been associated with stillbirth and other adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Approximately 20 percent of stillbirths are attributed to genetic changes in the baby that may have contributed to the stillbirth. Prior studies have looked only for big changes in a baby’s DNA (the building blocks of genetic information), while newer sequencing technology allows researchers to look for tiny errors in the genetic information contained in each cell. Studying possible mistakes in DNA may provide new answers to what else could cause stillbirth.

Our Study

The goal of the International Fetal Genomics Consortium (IFGC) is to advance the understanding of the genetic causes of stillbirth worldwide. The consortium resembles a library housing fetal genetic information available to researchers worldwide. Pooling resources and stored genetic information will allow new scientific discoveries about how to prevent stillbirth. With your help, the IFGC can give families like you more answers to some of the questions surrounding a stillbirth.

1 Gregory ECW, Valenzuela CP, Hoyert DL. Fetal mortality: United States, 2020. National Vital Statistics Reports; vol 71 no 4. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2022.

2 Wilkins-Haug L. Genetic innovations and our understanding of stillbirth. Hum Genet. 2020 Sep;139(9):1161-1172. doi: 10.1007/s00439-020-02146-2. Epub 2020 Apr 21. PMID: 32318853.

3 What are possible causes of stillbirth? NIH-NICHD. Published August 25, 2023. Accessed September 8, 2023. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/stillbirth/topicinfo/causes.

4 Stanley KE, Giordano J, Thorsten V, et al. Causal Genetic Variants in Stillbirth. N Engl J Med. 2020 Sep 17;383(12):1107-1116. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1908753. Epub 2020 Aug 12. PMID: 32786180; PMCID: PMC7604888.

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We are available to answer your questions and tell you more about our goals.

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