Fetal death records are compiled from the Fetal Death Reports, which are filed with the Department of Health and Senior Services by state law. The fetal death system has been in place in Missouri continuously since 1911, although changes in data items and definitions have taken place over the years.
Fetal death is defined by statute (MRS-193) as a non-induced death prior to the complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of a fetus , irrespective of the duration of pregnancy, the death is indicated by fact that after such expulsion or extraction the fetus does not breathe or show any other evidence of life such as beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles. Each spontaneous fetal death of twenty completed weeks gestation or more, calculated from the date of last normal menstrual period began to the date of delivery, or a weight of three hundred fifty grams or more which occurs in this state shall be reported.
Missouri cooperates with other states in the exchange of fetal death records. Therefore fetal death data for Missouri residents is nearly complete regardless of where the event occurred.
Fetal death data is used to study maternal and perinatal health as well as pregnancy patterns.