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Investigation and management of stillbirth: a descriptive review of major guidelines.

Stillbirth is a common and devastating pregnancy complication. The aim of this study was to review and compare the recommendations of the most recently published guidelines on the investigation and management of this adverse outcome. A descriptive review of guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG), the Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand (PSANZ), the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC) on stillbirth was carried out. Regarding investigation, there is consensus that medical history and postmortem examination are crucial and that determining the etiology may improve care in a subsequent pregnancy. All guidelines recommend histopathological examination of the placenta, genetic analysis and microbiology of fetal and placental tissues, offering less invasive techniques when autopsy is declined and a Kleihauer test to detect large feto-maternal hemorrhage, whereas they discourage routine screening for inherited thrombophilias. RCOG and SOGC also recommend a complete blood count, coagulopathies' testing, anti-Ro and anti-La antibodies' measurement in cases of hydrops and parental karyotyping. Discrepancies exist among the reviewed guidelines on the definition of stillbirth and the usefulness of thyroid function tests and maternal viral screening. Moreover, only ACOG and RCOG discuss the management of stillbirth. They agree that, in the absence of coagulopathies, expectant management should be considered and encourage vaginal birth, but they suggest different labor induction protocols and different management in subsequent pregnancies. It is important to develop consistent international practice protocols, in order to allow effective determination of the underlying causes and optimal management of stillbirths, while identifying the gaps in the current literature may highlight the need for future research.

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