Maternal infection and stillbirth: A review

Document Type

Review Article


Community Health Sciences; Pathology and Laboratory Medicine


Introduction: Maternal infections likely are an important cause of stillbirths, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia, where the burden is highest. Due to the lack of routine testing for infection, which can be complex and often expensive, the prevalence of infection during pregnancy and the association of many infections with stillbirth are not well-documented, especially in low-resource countries.
Methods: Following an extensive literature review of infection and stillbirth initially published in 2010, we conducted a review of literature in the last 10 years to identify infections associated with stillbirth, focused on those in low-resource settings.
Results: During the last 10 years, over 40 bacterial, viral and other pathogens have been associated with stillbirth. Newly emerging viral infections such as Denge as well as several well-established, but not yet eliminated infections such as rubella have been associated with stillbirth. Two of the maternal infections most strongly associated with stillbirth, each with about a 2-fold risk, are malaria and syphilis but others have been associated with risk in a range of studies. With a lack of routine antenatal screening, many pathogens are identified as associated with stillbirth only through case reports. Infection remains an important, yet understudied, cause of stillbirth.
Conclusion: Research studies to determine definitive associations between various infections and stillbirth are important to better understand the role of infections and strategies to reduce infection-related stillbirth.
Summary This review explores the association between infections and stillbirths focusing on low-income country studies published in the last 10 years. Much information about these relationships comes from case reports. Research resulting in a better understanding of the causes and strategies to reduce infection-related stillbirth is necessary.


Volume, and issue are not provided by the author/publisher


The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine