Unexpected late fetal death is tragic but not uncommon, most such fetal deaths being unexplained. Although five times more common than sudden infant death,1 they have attracted scant public attention.
Delivery is recommended when the risks to the fetus in utero are greater than those to the baby after birth; in high risk pregnancies this is generally believed to be around 38 weeks. The risk of unexplained stillbirth near term is, however, relevant to all pregnancies. Current numerical estimates do not detail risk by gestation,1 and the few studies that have done so are no longer applicable in the United Kingdom in the late 1990s. Yudkin et al calculated the total risk of stillbirth by gestation using population data that are currently over 15 years old,2 while Feldman calculated a prospective risk using data from a New York City population, including multiple pregnancies and a high proportion of women with no antenatal care.3 We calculated prospective risks of unexplained stillbirth by gestation in singleton pregnancies near term.