Some states use a separate form for filing a report of stillbirth. Other states
require the birth attendant to file both a birth certificate and a death certificate.
The gestational age that constitutes a stillbirth differs from state to state but is
usually around 20 weeks. In some cases, an induced abortion may require
The stillbirth certificate may be the appropriate form even if the child is born
alive. Separate birth and death certificates are required usually only if the child
is potentially viable and lives for some period. If a fetus of any gestational age
shows signs of life such as heartbeat or respiratory effort, it is best to file the
A reasonable attempt to determine the cause of death should be made for
stillborn infants. Prematurity is usually a result of some underlying medical
condition, not the cause itself. Prematurity is obviously not the cause of
intrauterine death. Since some causes of stillbirth, such as infection or uterine
abnormality, are treatable, the physician who does not establish the cause of a
stillbirth may be liable for similar problems in a subsequent pregnancy.